Footballer Marcus Rashford and Captain Sir Tom Moore were among the winners of this year’s Pride of Britain awards.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge bestowed a special recognition award on NHS frontline staff after thousands of nominations were received for staff across the UK as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Manchester United star Rashford was praised for his work with children who receive free school meals throughout the pandemic while Captain Tom was rewarded for his fundraising efforts for the NHS in the spring.
Now the 22-year-old England striker’s partnership with Burberry was accompanied by the publication of a moving letter the footballer wrote to his 10-year-old self.
When you fall, which you will,” Rasford says, “there will always be neighbours and friends to catch you. There is no need to feel ashamed because they will catch you without judgment and comment. No questions asked. Feel the warmth of those around you and know that one day, you are going to have the platform to repay them.”
He adds: “For a young boy who says so little, one day you will have a voice that speaks for many.”
Read his letter here
I encourage you to dream, because sometimes dreams are all you will have. I encourage you to lay your head on the pillow and close your eyes tight and think of better days to come, because luckily for us, our dreams have come true. Would I be the Marcus Rashford you see stood in front of you today if it wasn’t for the hardship and struggle? Simple answer? No. You should never be ashamed to ask for help. Take pride in knowing that your struggle will play the biggest role in your purpose. Never drop your head in shame.
There have been many days that you have felt alone and, in this game we call football, there will be a few more to come. But your family and your community will never allow anyone to dim your light because that light is still needed to survive the darkest days. The noise your stomach has been making, will one day be replaced with the noise of crowds chanting your name. Buckle up little man, it’s going to be quite the ride.
Your community will prove to be the most special extension of your family. When you fall, which you will, there will always be neighbours and friends to catch you. There is no need to feel ashamed because they will catch you without judgment and comment. No questions asked. Feel the warmth of those around you and know that one day, you are going to have the platform to repay them. For a young boy who says so little, one day you will have a voice that speaks for many.
One day you will have a lot of things you never dreamt of owning, but never forget that stability and consistency are two of the most valuable things you will ever experience. The youth centres that you visit today on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday, will prove to be central to all of the greatest gifts you receive in life – your friendships, your discipline, your respect, and compassion for others.
One day you will have the opportunity to travel to lands you never knew existed, to hear languages so foreign, and experience culture so alien. Don’t ever be overwhelmed. Stand tall, with the Mancunian accent that will become so familiar to many. Your youth centre has taught you to celebrate difference. To celebrate those that don’t look or sound like you. And this is one of the greatest lessons you will learn, so hold on to it, as one day you will be stood alongside ten new allies whose only common language is that round ball that has become so important in your life. We do not point fingers, we never have. We wrap our arms around each other and tug each other up at times we are feeling low. Always remember that kindness is power.
The life lessons you will hold so close as an adult, are being taught right now within the four walls of that youth centre. The freedom and safety you are feeling, will one day be felt on a pitch much greater than you can imagine. Never take for granted this safe space as it plays such a big role in mum’s life. You might not be able to see it now, but her smile grows wide and the weight on her shoulders lessens every time you return home with a full belly. One day those football players you idolize will be trumped by a greater hero. A hero that goes by the name of mum.
There have been many days that you have felt lesser than others, but no more. Your voice, your stance, your family, your community, and friends, all matter. Whenever you feel like you have very little, know that there are always people willing to give. Just look at those doors wide open welcoming you in for a snack or a chat. If I had to ask one thing of you it would be this. Please, never go to bed feeling like you don’t have a role to play in this life because, believe me when I tell you, the possibilities are endless.