Eleven-year-old Larne fan, Ben Dickinson, was given a hero’s welcome at Old Trafford after completing a ten-day trek in aid of food poverty charity FareShare.
The inspirational youngster walked 64 miles from his hometown in Larne to the home of Manchester United Football Club, raising over £28,000 which will fund more than 115,000 meals for the UK hunger charity.
Ben, inspired by his idol, England international, and FareShare ambassador, Marcus Rashford MBE, first set himself a target of 50,000 meals for FareShare, and is ecstatic at his final fundraising tally.
“I set myself the challenge of raising 50,000 meals but I am absolutely gobsmacked that my charity campaign has raised more than double that now.
“It was a tough trek, I definitely had sore legs at times, but knowing what FareShare can do with that money and that thousands of people in Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK will now have a healthy meal on the table, it makes every step worth it.”
The young fundraiser was supported along his charity walk by squad members of Larne Football Club, Larne Football Club and Boomin owner, Kenny Bruce, and met Manchester United stalwart’s Gary Neville, Paul Scholes, and Wayne Rooney.
His Ben’s Miles for Meals campaign culminated with a pitchside ovation from a 75,000-strong Old Trafford crowd and a shirt presentation from Sir Alex Ferguson (pictured above).
Proud dad Andrew Dickinson, who accompanied son Ben every step of the way, said: “I’m in awe of what Ben has achieved.
“He’s turned his love for Marcus Rashford into a charity campaign that will undoubtedly change the lives of thousands of people across the UK.
“Completely smashing his original target was reward enough but the hero’s welcome at Old Trafford was an experience he will never forget and we are so thankful to everyone who made it happen and supported him along the way.”
Thrilled Ben echoed his dad’s statement, saying: “It really was the most amazing experience of my life!”.
The funds raised through the campaign will enable FareShare to tackle hunger in the most vulnerable communities by distributing food packages to charities and foodbanks in Northern Ireland, and across the rest of the UK.
For more information on the campaign, visit www.bensmilesformeals.com