Marcus Rashford: ‘why my honorary doctorate is a bittersweet moment’

The Manchester United forward described the moment as ‘bittersweet’ after it coincided with an end to the £20 universal credit top-up.

Marcus Rashford. Credit: Getty.

Marcus Rashford has become the youngest-ever recipient of an honorary doctorate from the University of Manchester.

The Manchester United and England forward was awarded the diploma during a special ceremony at Old Trafford on Thursday, in recognition of the outstanding charity work Rashford has done in recent years.

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The 23-year-old twice forced a government u-turn on offering free school meals in 2020, as families felt the strain of Covid-19. Rashford’s commendable charity also includes working in collaboration with FareShare, partnering with chef Tom Kerridge to promote healthy meals for kids and launching a book club for unprivileged children.

But speaking to BBC Breakfast, Rashford described receiving his honorary doctorate as a ‘bittersweet’ moment after it coincided with the end of the £20 universal credit top-up, which was brought in during the height of the pandemic.

"You’ve got to decide between - are you going to eat or are you going to be warm in the house? These are decisions that you don’t want people to go through, never mind children,” he said.

"And there’s other stuff, the price of fuel and electricity and there’s actually a shortage of food at the moment... as some of the food banks I work with are experiencing.

"So there’s other things that people are worrying about and, if we can take one less stress off them, it’s important."

"It’s time that representatives got out into communities like mine," he added. "It’s time they saw first-hand the true measure of struggle. Covid-19 can no longer be used as an excuse."

After presenting Rashford with his degree, the university’s vice-chancellor Professor Dame Nancy Rothwel said: “Marcus is an exceptional young man who continues to demonstrate a sense of community and generosity that goes well beyond his years.

“Our university also has social responsibility at its core, and we are extremely proud to share these values with Marcus.

“It really is an honour to finally present him with this well-deserved award on behalf of our institution.

“His ongoing charity work and high-profile campaigns not only help millions of people across the country but inspire many more to try and make a difference themselves. Long may it continue.”