Manchester United and England international, Marcus Rashford, will be receiving an honorary doctorate from The University of Manchester “for his remarkable campaign against child poverty off the field and outstanding sporting achievements on the pitch” later in the summer.
At 22, the forward will become the youngest ever recipient of an honorary doctorate from the university, which is the highest honor it can bestow. He joins the likes of United legends, Sir Alex Ferguson and Sir Bobby Charlton, to receive the award from the university.
“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,” Rashford said. “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.”
Known for philanthropic endeavors outside football, Rashford collaborated with FareShare, a charity organization in the United Kingdom fighting poverty and food waste, to raise £20 million ($25m) in financial aid and food donations during the lockdown, “enabling 3.9 million meals to be distributed to the country’s most vulnerable every week during the Global COVID-19 pandemic,” a statement from the university said.
The football star, who is from Wythenshawe, Manchester, also received plaudits on June 15 after penning an open letter to the UK Government pleading with them to reverse their decision to stop providing food vouchers to needy families in the country during the summer holidays. The scheme, which was announced after schools were shut down in March as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, was to ensure kids from poor families who rely on free school meals do not go hungry during the period.
A beneficiary of the food voucher scheme while growing up, Rashford’s publicized campaign, coupled with mounting pressure, forced the government to make a U-turn, announcing a £120m ($151m) ‘Covid summer food fund’ for 1.3 million school children in England 36 hours after initially rejecting his plea and defending their action.
“Marcus is an extraordinary young man with an extraordinary talent and drive that stretches well beyond the football field,” President and Vice-Chancellor of The University of Manchester, Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, said.
“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.”
Manchester United manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjær, was also full of praises for the youngster.
“We’re so proud of Marcus and I’ve said it a few times, what a great person he is, a great human being,” he said. “He cares about so much more than himself and the work he’s done, it just shows that he cares so much about others than himself. So I’m very proud of him and, hopefully, he’ll keep his personality for the rest of his life, just keep on being yourself.”