Arsenal fan with dementia has dream come true with Emirates visit
PUBLISHED: 14:51 12 August 2019 | UPDATED: 15:07 12 August 2019
A carehome resident with dementia was made the man of the match when his dream of visiting his football team's stadium came true.
Raymond Forward, 76, has been an Arsenal fan his entire life.
Born in London, Mr Forward moved to Lowestoft as a young boy for his father's work as a fisherman. Although he lived several hours away from London, Ray followed every kick of his local team, making the three hour journey to the club's old Highbury stadium every week.
But Mr Forward, who now lives with dementia, had to stop attending Arsenal games a few years ago due to his condition, and had never seen the club's new Emirates stadium, their home since 2004.
That is until carers from Britten Court care home, where Mr Forward lives, gave him the opportunity to live out his dream by organising a surprise visit to the stadium.
Mr Forward was given a tour of the grounds, and was able to visit the players' changing room.
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He said: "I was so pleased to be able to visit the home of my team.
"I had a wonderful day. I loved being able to look around the players' changing rooms and finally seeing the pitch up close.
"The trip brought back so many happy memories of going to the games, something that has been a huge part of my life."
Although Mr Forward's condition forced him to stop attending games, he loves to reminisce about his beloved team, and residents at Britten Court say he is known for wearing his iconic Arsenal shirts every day.
Chloe Swarbrick, home manager at Britten Court, said: "Everyone at Britten Court knows how much Arsenal FC means to Ray, and the team members love having chats with him about how his team is doing in the league.
"It was fantastic to be able to grant Ray's wish to see the new grounds for the first time and to relive some of his fondest memories."
Britten Court is a purpose-built home that provides nursing and residential care, as well as both short-term and permanent dementia care.