Footballer Marcus Rashford has been honoured by Queen Elizabeth II in recognition of his campaign to feed vulnerable children, alongside hundreds of key workers who helped in the fight against the coronavirus.
The 22-year-old Manchester United and England forward is one of the highest-profile figures on the monarch’s birthday honours list, which was postponed from June in order to include front-line health workers and others in the COVID-19 effort.
Rashford forced a government U-turn over its free school meals policy, ensuring children in need would receive meal vouchers throughout the summer months, and has formed a child food poverty task force.
Rashford, who has been made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE), said he was “honoured and humbled” to receive the award.
“Let’s stand together in saying that no children in the UK should be going to bed hungry,” he said. “As I have said many times before, no matter your feeling or opinion, not having access to food is never the child’s fault.”
Body Coach’s Joe Wicks and Derrick Evans, better known as Mr Motivator, also received the MBEs for their live workouts to encourage people to stay physically fit during the lockdown.
Rapper Lady Leshurr has been awarded the British Empire Medal for her coronavirus-related song that reminds people to wash their hands. “I can’t believe that the queen of England has noticed and commended the queen of grime,” she said.
Of those who have been honoured, nearly three-quarters have worked for their local communities, reflecting the huge voluntary effort in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“This year’s honours recipients are a testament to the sort of country we are – caring, compassionate and resolute in the face of a global pandemic,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.
“The hard work and dedication of these local, often unsung heroes has helped carry us through. I congratulate them all.”
More than 42,000 people have died in the outbreak in the United Kingdom – the worst toll in Europe – and concern is mounting over the rising infection numbers.