Belfast Telegraph

Flying the flag for charity as Big Lily plays its part in raising £300k for children

By Adrian Rutherford

For nearly two decades it has been Manchester United's greatest - and largest - supporter, inspired by a man from Northern Ireland.

Big Lily, the iconic red, white and black flag, spanning 100ft by 60ft, has travelled the world since the 1998-1999 Treble-winning season.

It has appeared at matches in Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro, Barcelona, Moscow and Turin and been the subject of a book, films, and TV documentaries.

And now Big Lily is the inspiration for a huge charity campaign.

Today, Big Lily's joint-creator and owner, Carrickfergus fan Keith Norris, will launch the United Supporters 4 Unicef project.

Keith's mission is to persuade 116,000 people to sign the flag digitally to break the current Guinness World Record - and raise over £300,000.

Each person who donates and signs will receive a Free 'My Big Lily' - Manchester United's Biggest Supporter' eBook and a certificate signed by United legend Paddy Crerand.

Mr Norris said: "Big Lily is, and always will be, a symbol of peace, friendship and unity. The reaction and smile on people's faces when they raise her above their heads or stand and have a picture taken is enduring and priceless. I receive emails from all over the world wanting to learn more of United's Big Lily."

"Whilst this is a fans' initiative, we've been overwhelmed by the help and guidance from United legends Paddy Crerand and Gary Neville, John Shiels and his team at the Manchester United Foundation."

Mr Crerand said: "I'm absolutely delighted to be part of the Manchester United's worldwide supporters' initiative with Big Lily to raise £300,000 plus for children in danger around the world in aid of Unicef."

Keith has hired a plane to fly over Old Trafford during today's match with Bournemouth, highlighting the charity drive.

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