Manchester United and England forward Marcus Rashford has been awarded an MBE for services to vulnerable children in the UK during the coronavirus pandemic.
The 2020 Queen’s Birthday Honours list was due to be published in June, but was pushed back to enable nominations for people playing crucial roles during the first months of the crisis.
Rashford, 22, successfully lobbied the Government into a U-turn over its free school meals policy during lockdown, ensuring children in need would receive meals across the summer.
The England international has since formed a child food poverty task force, linking up with some of the nation’s biggest supermarkets and food brands.
During September, Rashford received the Professional Footballers’ Association merit award for his efforts.
In a statement, Rashford said: “I’m incredibly honoured and humbled. As a young black man from Wythenshawe, never did I think I would be accepting an MBE, never mind an MBE at the age of 22. This is a very special moment for myself and my family, but particularly my mum who is the real deserving recipient of the honour.
“The fight to protect our most vulnerable children is far from over. I would be doing my community, and the families I have met and spoken with, an injustice if I didn’t use this opportunity to respectfully urge the Prime Minister, who recommended me for this honour, to support our children during the October half term with an extension of the voucher scheme, as the furlough scheme comes to an end and we face increased unemployment. Another sticking plaster, but one that will give the parents of millions of children in the UK just one less thing to worry about.
“Let’s stand together in saying that no children in the UK should be going to bed hungry. As I have said many times before, no matter your feeling or opinion, not having access to food is NEVER the child’s fault.”
Rashford’s club said they were “delighted” to see his work off the pitch had been recognised.
“Everyone at Manchester United is hugely proud of Marcus for the work he has been doing to tackle food poverty among vulnerable children,” a club statement read.
“His campaigning has raised awareness of a crucial issue and made a positive difference, and we are delighted to see his efforts being recognised with this honour.”