Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford is to become the youngest ever recipient of an honorary doctorate from the University of Manchester, awarded in recognition of his campaign against child poverty in the UK and for his sporting exploits on the pitch.
In June, Rashford successfully pressured the UK government to reverse its decision to not extend free school meal vouchers throughout the summer holidays for children from low-income families.
“It’s a proud day for myself and my family,” Rashford told the Manchester United website. “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 award is the highest honor the university can bestow and has previously been received by Manchester United legends Sir Alex Ferguson and Sir Bobby Charlton.
At the start of the coronavirus lockdown in UK, Rashford helped raise over £20 million ($25 million) in donations alongside food charity FareShare, reaching 1,280,000 children.
The 22-year-old then started his campaign by writing an open letter to lawmakers about his own personal experience of using food banks as a child, before asking the government to extend free school meal vouchers after the school year had ended.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson initially rejected the request, but huge public backing for Rashford’s campaign forced him to reverse his decision.
“Marcus is an extraordinary young man with an extraordinary talent and drive that stretches well beyond the football field,” Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, President and Vice-Chancellor at the University of Manchester, 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.”