Arsenal fan sends money home to fund lorry load of food
Hong Kong-based businessman Peter Olsen pays for 30,000 meals to be delivered from truck decked out in Gunners colours
22 May, 2020
The Arsenal lorry funded by Gunners Peter Olsen, with thousands of meals for those struggling in the coronavirus crisis
WHEN Hong Kong businessman Peter Olsen was a boy, he could never have imagined that one day an Arsenal truck would be driving around north London with his name on it.
But on Wednesday, the 77-year-old Gunners fan had that honour after working with the club to pay for 30,000 meals for those struggling to get food during the coronavirus lockdown.
The big red vehicle was marked with a special thank you for Mr Olsen’s remarkable generosity.
He told the Tribune he had known what it was like to be hungry during his childhood and, although now on the other side of the world, he wanted to help people back in north London.
Mr Olsen made his money in the toy-making business after working in the old Matchbox factory in Homerton as a young man. The company eventually sent him to Asia to work on logistics and he later started his own company in 1982.
His eye for deals meant he became successful, producing doll versions of a new boy band he’d never heard of: Take That.
Peter Olsen: ‘To be in a position to give something back to my hometown – well, it’s the most joyous thing of my life’
He said: “I bought the mould for a doll of Vanilla Ice and turned it into Robbie Williams. I added £1 to each toy from where I sourced them. In the first year we sold 280,000.”
As Mr Olsen’s business grew, he wondered what to do with his success.
He said: “My bank manager told me of the funeral of a businessman attended by 2,000 people. None of them knew each other. They were people he had quietly helped out over the years. I made the decision – I would like to die broke.”
And when he heard about how Arsenal were working with the HIS charity to help feed those in need through club legend Bob Wilson, Mr Olsen decided to open his chequebook and ask how much was needed.
He also makes donations to Mr Wilson’s Willow Foundation, which helps care for seriously ill young people.
Mr Olsen added: “I like to donate to causes I have an emotional involvement in. It is absolutely magic for me to be able to do this. As a child I used to collect 12 glass bottles and return them to the off-licence so I could get tuppence on each as my family needed the money.
“To be in a position to give something back to my hometown – well, it’s the most joyous thing of my life, just to be able to do something to help.”