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Ben sets off with the Larne FC senior squad, cheered on by local primary school children along the route. Photos: Stephen Hamilton

Warm Manchester Utd welcome awaits Ben Dickinson (10) as walk from Larne starts

Larne schoolboy Ben Dickinson is guaranteed a hero’s welcome when he arrives at Old Trafford at the end of his 10-day charity walk which commenced this morning (Thursday).

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 3rd March 2022, 1:13 pm

The 10-year-old Manchester United supporter will complete ‘Ben’s Miles for Meals’ trek in aid of FareShare on Saturday, March 12, as his favourite team takes on Tottenham Hotspur.

Looking ahead to Ben’s arrival in Manchester, John Shiels MBE, chief executive of Manchester United Foundation, said: “What Ben is doing for FareShare is truly inspirational. We are passionate about celebrating young people and providing them with the opportunities to create social action in their communities. In a post-pandemic world, it has never been so important.

“We wish Ben all the best on his journey and look forward to welcoming him over the finish line at Old Trafford.”

FareShare collects surplus food from multiple industries and redistributes it to numerous charities and foodbanks in Northern Ireland, and across the rest of the UK, tackling hunger in the most vulnerable communities.

By walking from his hometown to the home of the Red Devils in Manchester, Ben, inspired by his own footballing icon and FareShare UK ambassador, Marcus Rashford MBE, is hoping to raise enough money to fund 50,000 meals for the charity and change lives across the UK.

Speaking before setting off from Inver Park, Ben commented: “Since launching Ben’s Mile for Meals, the support I’ve received from friends, family, Greenisland FC teammates, local businesses, and famous faces, has been brilliant.

“I’m already well on course to reach my target of 50,000 meals but hope my walk to Old Trafford will get me over that line.

“I just can’t wait to get started now and enjoy the next ten days!”

Joining Ben on the first leg of his journey were senior squad members from Larne Football Club, Jane Gregg, daughter of Northern Ireland legend Harry Gregg, representatives from FareShare NI, and friends and family, with further supporters joining the schoolboy throughout the rest of the challenge.

Hotel Football will host Ben and his family throughout the walk. Jessica Southworth, director of Sales and Marketing, said: “We are delighted to be involved in Ben’s Miles for Meals campaign and wanted to do everything we possibly could to support at Hotel Football.

“As we are located in close proximity to Old Trafford, we felt it was only right that we supported what is such an incredible cause and are really looking forward to welcoming Ben to Hotel Football following such a huge achievement.”

Ben’s Miles for Meals campaign has already received support from key figures including former Manchester United players Gary Neville, Bryan Robson and Norman Whiteside, and Larne FC owner, Kenny Bruce.

Donations have also flooded in from businesses such as Donnelly Group, Boomin, Pro ID, Stena Line, Club Sport NI, LM Creative Media, and Manchester-based distribution company, Lomas Distribution, as well as individuals globally, inspired by the Larne youngster’s kind-hearted nature and determination to make a difference.

Speaking of the campaign’s success so far, James Persad from FareShare UK, said: “Ben’s enthusiasm and determination are truly inspirational. We couldn’t be more grateful for his incredible efforts. The money he’s raised will get food onto the plates of families and children across the UK.

“Thank you Ben and best of luck on the walk!”

For more information on how to support Ben’s Miles for Meals, visit www.bensmilesformeals.com or to donate £10 towards the FareShare charity, text BEN to 70490.

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