Marcus Rashford surprises NI schoolboy on Zoom call with words of encouragement

A father and son from Larne, whose Zoom call was ‘gatecrashed’ by Marcus Rashford, are still pinching themselves about the moment they came face-to-face with the Manchester United striker.

Wednesday, 17th March 2021, 1:20 pm
On the Zoom call: Sky Sports Paul Gilmour, Andrew and Ben Dickinson and Marcus Rashford

Ben Dickinson was in the middle of an interview with Sky Sports via Zoom about his fundraising efforts for the NI Children’s Hospice when Rashford joined the call to encourage the 10-year-old to keep up the good work.

His dad Andrew, who was also on the call, said: “It still hasn’t sunk in to be quite honest. It was certainly a shock for me, but I was even more delighted for Ben – the wee boy is 10, it’s something that he will never, ever forget.”

The Zoom call had been set up by Sky Sports reporter Paul Gilmour, who is from Carrickfergus.

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Ben with his mum Claire and dad Andrew at the home of Manchester United

“He had got wind of Ben’s story about his fundraising for the NI Children’s Hospice,” said Andrew, a season ticket holder at Old Trafford.

He explained that Ben was inspired to run a mile a day for the hospice by the Manchester United and England star who was given an MBE last year for spearheading a free school meals campaign.

On the call Ben was asked what he would say to the striker if he had the chance to talk to him. He said he’d ask Rashford to run one of the miles with him.

Just then the Old Trafford ace joined the call and told Ben: “You should be very, very proud of yourself and I’m sure your family are proud of you. It’s bringing me great joy to see you do the things you’re doing. I’m rooting for you and I hope you do well.”

Ben Dickinson at Old Trafford

He also promised to send Ben a signed shirt.

Andrew said: “[Rashford] tweeted the Sky Sports report and said ‘My guy Ben, what a hero’. When I showed that to Ben he couldn’t believe it.

“He’s a very level-headed kid. He’s taken it in his stride. He wouldn’t want to bum about it to his mates so they’d feel left out.

“But for him playing football it will give him so much confidence to push himself on.”

Ben on one of the mile runs with Larne FC's John Herron

Ben plays for Belfast club TW Braga who are coached by Paul Kirk, a former Irish League player and manager. He is also part of the Playing For The Future Academy in Lurgan.

Andrew said: “Part of the reason for the run for the hospice was to get back in training again, but the main aim is to help kids less fortunate than himself. He’s raised £3,700 to date.”

Ben is an only child though his mum Claire is expecting a baby in August.

His dad Andrew said: “Should the baby be a boy, there’s already talk of calling him Marcus.”

To donate to Ben’s fundraising go to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/benjiballer5

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