Stars call for Marcus Rashford to be knighted after free school meals victory
CELEBRITIES and fans have called for footie star Marcus Rashford to be knighted after his campaign for free school meals led to a dramatic u-turn by the Government.
Rashford, 22, has been praised for his efforts in convincing the Government to provide £15 a week meal vouchers for poor kids in the UK during the summer holidays.
After increased pressure from Tory MPs and celebrities, the Government revealed it would fund the scheme after all, despite initially saying it would not carry on over the summer.
The Manchester United ace's efforts towards keeping the free meals scheme going have prompted calls for him to receive a knighthood.
Ex-England cricketer Kevin Pietersen praised the Premier League star on Twitter, calling him “Sir Marcus Rashford” while former Sunderland player Michael Gray tweeted “SIR @MarcusRashford”.
Radio presenter Paul Ross added: “I never remember being hungry as a kid but I was a free school dinner kid – as were 3 of the 6 of us – and it helped with the Ross household budget. That and the Family Allowance were life savers. Arise Sir M!”
The hashtag #SirMarcusRashford was trending on Twitter on Wednesday as fans heaped praise on the young striker.
"What an inspiration Marcus Rashford is. His campaigning could save lives… Rashford deserves a knighthood," one fan wrote.
"Personally think you should receive a knighthood. The amount of children you have helped and saved from being hungry throughout the day are in the hundreds of thousands," another supporter posted.
If Rashford is knighted it would make him one of the youngest people ever to receive the honour – seven years younger than tennis champion Sir Andy Murray was when he was given a knighthood.
He would join other Manchester United legends including managers Sir Matt Busby and Sir Alex Ferguson and player Sir Bobby Charlton.
Rashford's odds of receiving a knighthood plummeted after his charity work during the Covid-19 pandemic, dropping to 6/4.
In a statement addressed "to all MPs", Rashford thanked them for giving families "one less thing to worry about" after the u-turn.
"This was never about me or you, this was never about politics, this was a cry out for help from vulnerable parents all over the country and I simply provided a platform for their voices to be heard," he wrote in the statement shared on social media.
"I stand proud today knowing that we have listened, and we have done what is right.
"There is still a long way to go but I am thankful to you all that we have given these families just one less thing to worry about tonight.
"The wellbeing of our children should ALWAYS be a priority."
The PM's spokesperson said yesterday that the Government would run a Covid food fund throughout the summer.
He said: “The PM welcomed Marcus Rashford’s contribution to the debate around poverty and I said he would be responding as soon as possible.
"Owing to the coronavirus pandemic, the PM fully understands that children and parents face an entirely unprecedented situation over the summer.
"To to reflect this, we will be providing a Covid summer food fund.
"This will provide food vouchers covering the six week holiday period.
"This was a specific measure to reflect the unique circumstances of the pandemic.
"The scheme will not continue beyond the summer and those eligible will be those who already qualify for free school meals.”
Ministers have said they will continue with plans to put an additional £63million of money into local authorities to help those who can't afford basic essentials.
The dramatic u-turn followed England star Rashford penning a heartfelt open letter to the government – urging them to reverse their decision.
He wrote: “The Government has taken a ‘whatever it takes’ approach to the economy – I’m asking you today to extend that same thinking to protecting all vulnerable children across England.
“I encourage you to hear their pleas and find your humanity.”
Rashford, who has raised £20 million to boost food distribution with the charity FareShare, revealed how he used food banks and received free meals during his childhood in Manchester.
The forward wrote: “We relied on breakfast clubs, free school meals, and the kind actions of neighbours and coaches.
“Food banks and soup kitchens were not alien to us – I recall very clearly our visits to Northern Moor to collect our Christmas dinners every year.
“As a black man from a low-income family in Manchester, I could have been just another statistic.
"Make the u-turn and make protecting the lives of some of our most vulnerable a top priority."
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