Caring Marcus Rashford has netted an MBE for his heroic free school meals campaign — but warned Boris Johnson that his fight is “far from over”.
The England and Man United ace, 22, who forced ministers to feed 1.3 million of Britain’s poorest kids over the summer holidays, is urging them to extend the scheme to cover the next half-term.
Rashford said he was “honoured and humbled” to be awarded an MBE — and dedicated it to his mum Melanie.
The young England striker is honoured in the Queen’s birthday list for services to vulnerable children.
When schools were forced to close because of Covid, the poorest children had their free school meals extended — but ministers vowed to cut off this vital support over the summer holidays.
A powerful letter from Marcus urging them to think again led dozens of MPs from all sides to back his cause and forced the Government into a major U-turn.
Marcus is now urging Boris Johnson to extend the scheme for the upcoming half-term.
The Manchester United ace said of his gong: “I’m incredibly honoured and humbled.
“As a young black man from Wythenshawe, never did I think I would be accepting an MBE, never mind an MBE at the age of 22.
“This is a very special moment for myself and my family, but particularly my mum who is the real deserving recipient of the honour.
“The fight to protect our most vulnerable children is far from over.
“I would be doing my community, and the families I have met and spoken with, an injustice if I didn’t use this opportunity to respectfully urge the Prime Minister, who recommended me for this honour, to support our children during the October half-term with an extension of the voucher scheme, as the furlough scheme comes to an end and we face increased unemployment.
“Another sticking plaster, but one that will give the parents of millions of children in the UK just one less thing to worry about.
“Let’s stand together in saying that no children in the UK should be going to bed hungry.
“As I have said many times before, no matter your feeling or opinion, not having access to food is NEVER the child’s fault.”
Multi-millionaire Marcus has spoken before of how his own hunger pangs as a child were kept at bay by free school meals and how hard-working Melanie struggled to put food on the table at home.
Tonight Tory MP Rob Halfon backed his call to extend the scheme, saying it should be paid for by the proceeds of the sugar tax.
He added: “I congratulate Marcus — he’s a hero of our time.”
Following the footballer’s campaign in June, No10 announced the creation of a £120million “Covid summer food fund”.
Parents of the poorest kids were given a £15 food voucher each week to spend in supermarkets over the six-week holiday.
Marcus also raised money for food poverty charity FareShare. He set a target of £100,000 but drummed up £20million to provide meals for around three million people.
Elsewhere in the sporting world, former Olympic athlete and Great North Run founder Brendan Foster, 72, received a knighthood for services to international and national sport and culture in North East England.
Ex-England cricketer and talkSPORT host Darren Gough is an MBE for services to the sport and charity, and ex-Wales rugby coach Warren Gatland is a CBE.
UNSUNG heroes who stepped up during the Covid pandemic have dominated this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours list.
Hundreds of key workers — including nurses, supermarket staff, delivery drivers and volunteers — are among those who receive gongs for selfless deeds.
Lynne Grieves, 57, is one of 41 nurses and midwives honoured.
The registered nurse moved into Northlea Court care home in Cramlington, Northumberland, in early April and stayed for 12 weeks — even celebrating her birthday there.
She wanted to be on hand, but could not risk taking the virus back home to her mum Ann, 82. Lynne, awarded a British Empire Medal, said: “Everybody sacrificed so much but it was worth it.”
Winsome Thomas, 57, a nurse at the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust for 21 years, is also awarded the BEM.
Cambridge nurse Ashleigh Linsdell, 30, founded a national movement to make PPE for front-line workers. She used her own money to buy fabric.
In total, more than 70,000 volunteers helped make 1.2million items of PPE and a further million face coverings.