England football star Marcus Rashford has topped the Sunday Times Giving List in a record-breaking year for donations.
The Manchester United striker, with a personal worth of £16 million, has become the youngest person to top the philanthropy list by raising £20 million in donations from supermarkets for groups tackling child food poverty in the UK.
For the first time, total donations on the list exceeded £4 billion, with a 36 per cent rise on the previous year’s £3.2 billion taking the 2020 total to more than £4.3 billion.
Along with helping charity FareShare distribute four million meals to vulnerable children during the pandemic, Rashford, 23, also forced a series of Government U-turns over free school meals.
The Prime Minister retracted his vow not to extend the voucher system into the summer holidays on June 16, two days after Rashford called on his Cabinet to reconsider the decision in an open letter.
In October, he launched a petition urging the Government to again extend free school meals through the half-term and Christmas holidays, eventually pressuring ministers into providing £170 million of extra funding.
Rashford, who received free school meals himself, was made an MBE in the delayed 2020 Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
He has since called for an urgent review of the free school meals system.
Lindsay Boswell, FareShare chief executive, said: “We are delighted he’s been honoured in this way. Marcus’s support for FareShare over the last year – and his commitment to tackling child hunger – has simply been incredible.
“His own experience of relying on free school meals to eat brings authenticity and compassion to his campaigning, and his status as a Premier League footballer means people and politicians sit up and take notice.”
Rashford features on the list alongside fellow footballer, Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson, who ranked sixth after raising £4 million for the NHS from fellow Premier League footballers through the #PlayersTogether appeal.
Coronavirus fuels giving spree
The Sainsbury family ranked second in the list, as serial benefactors through a network of trusts which generated just under £230 million for charities.
Jonathan Ruffer, whose Auckland Project is leading the regeneration of the former County Durham mining town, was third with £62 million gifted in 2020.
The Sunday Times ranking sets the sums donated or raised for charity against the Rich List wealth valuation for those individuals or families.
Coronavirus has fuelled the giving spree, and the Giving List recorded nine donations of more than £100 million and 71 gave at least £10 million – up from 42.
Some £520 million of donations covered pandemic-related causes, including PPE, community support and helping to plug the cumulative £10 billion funding gap in the finances of charities around the country.