- Lo Furneaux
Ben’s Miles for Meals Smashes Fundraising Target by More Than Double!
Updated: Feb 24
11-year-old Ben Dickinson recently embarked on a long distance charity walk from his hometown football ground of Inver Park in Larne, Northern Ireland to the home of the red devils in Manchester. He received a hero’s welcome as he arrived at Old Trafford after completing the 64-mile walk in just 10 days.
Though initially he felt the 50,000 target was a lofty one, he smashed this within the first 3 days of the walk and ended up raising over 115,000 meals for FareShare - more than £28,000!
Along the road, the young fundraiser was supported by squad members of Larne Football Club, Larne Football Club and Boomin owner, Kenny Bruce as well as being greeted by several greats from the club’s history, Wayne Rooney, Paul Scholes and Gary Neville.
His Ben’s Miles for Meals campaign culminated with a pitch-side ovation from a 75,000-strong Old Trafford crowd and a shirt presentation from the legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson who presented him with a signed shirt just before the kick-off against Tottenham Hotspurs last Saturday, 12th March. After the game ended, Ben was joined by Asset Reality’s Co-Founder & CEO, Aidan Larkin, across the road at Hotel Football for a charity auction of various signed memorabilia. Hotel Football is jointly owned by former Manchester United players from the Class of 92, teammates Gary Neville, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Philip Neville and Nicky Butt together with Singaporean businessman Peter Lim. In addition to its 133 rooms, it features a ground floor restaurant and a number of bespoke meeting and events spaces; including a rooftop football pitch and the Old Trafford Supports Club in the lower ground floor overlooking the canal.
Ben was inspired to embark on his fundraising by his hero, Manchester United and England football player, Marcus Rashford MBE and his ambassador work with FareShare to redistribute surplus food to disadvantaged families in the UK. Last year, Ben undertook a similar fundraising campaign for the Northern Ireland Hospice and raised over £7,000 for the charity. This was featured on Sky Sports News, where they surprised Ben with a zoom call from Marcus himself! When asked how he felt about his journey, Ben said: “It feels amazing. 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. It really was the most amazing experience of my life!” Ben’s dad, Andrew Dickinson added: “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. He loves Marcus Rashford and if Marcus Rashford told him to swim to here from Northern Ireland, he probably would!”
Aidan was thrilled to act as auctioneer to support the family’s campaign: “Asset Reality is proud to have supported Ben during his monumental effort to raise as much money as possible for FareShare. It’s incredible that this is his second fundraiser and he’s only 11 years old! A massive thanks to all the people at Hotel Football and the Manchester United Foundation who worked tirelessly in the background to make this a success, as well as all the generous sponsors and supporters who made it all possible. I hugely enjoyed having Connor Phillips and my son Ronan assist me during the charity auction. As a Manchester United fan myself, it’s safe to say this is one trip to Old Trafford I’ll never forget.” The FareShare charity was thankful for Ben's support:
"A Massive thank you to Ben for his amazing achievement walking from Northern Ireland to Old Trafford to raise money for FareShare. You completely smashed it. All of us are incredibly proud. Your support will have a lasting impact on many vulnerable people in the UK."
The funds Ben has raised throughout his 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 about Ben’s Miles for Meals, visit www.bensmilesformeals.co.uk.
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