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Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford to receive honorary degree

The Wythenshawe-born striker said his family relied on free school meals when he was growing up.

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Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford (PA)

Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford (PA)

Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford (PA)

Manchester United and England footballer Marcus Rashford is to become the youngest person to receive an honorary degree from The University of Manchester.

Rashford, 22, will follow in the footsteps of Manchester United legends Sir Alex Ferguson and Sir Bobby Charlton in earning the accolade from the university, which is being awarded for his campaigning work off the pitch.

Last month, he forced a Government U-turn after he wrote an open letter to MPs asking for the reversal of a decision not to award free school meals vouchers to vulnerable children outside term time.

The Wythenshawe-born striker said his family relied on free school meals when he was growing up.

During the Covid-19 lockdown, he also teamed up with poverty and food waste charity FareShare to help raise £20 million which meant 3.9 million meals could be distributed to vulnerable people every week.

On Wednesday, Rashford said: “It’s a proud day for myself and my family. When you look at the great names that have been awarded this doctorate in the past, it’s humbling.

“We still have a long way to go in the fight to combat child poverty in this country, but receiving recognition from your city means we are heading in the right direction and that means a lot. Thank you to The University of Manchester.”

The university’s president and vice-chancellor, Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, said: “Marcus is an extraordinary young man with an extraordinary talent and drive that stretches well beyond the football field.

“His work for charity and his high-profile campaign will not only help countless young people across our own city, but across the entire country.

“Our university has social responsibility at its core and this sense of civic pride and duty is something we are proud to share with Marcus. That is why the university is delighted to make Marcus our youngest ever recipient of an honorary degree.”

A Manchester United spokesman said: “Marcus is an exceptional player and an exceptional person. His work with FareShare and his focus on child poverty make him richly deserving of this tremendous honour and everyone at Manchester United is incredibly proud of him.”

Rashford will receive the honorary doctorate later this summer, the university said.

PA