A group of Manchester United fans suffering from life-threatening illnesses recently visited the first-team Carrington training ground to meet their footballing heroes as part of our Dream Day.
The memorable events take place twice a season and are organised in association with wish foundations such as The Willow Foundation, Dreams Come True and the Starlight Children’s Foundation – all charities that grant wishes to seriously and terminally ill children and adults across the country.
In a nice touch, the group were the first Dream Day batch of supporters invited to the training ground’s brand new visitor centre, from where they had a perfect view of the players’ training session.
Sir Alex Ferguson was the first to welcome the youngsters and their families. He was shortly followed by the entire first-team squad, who happily made their way around the room, chatting and posing for photographs, as well as signing autographs.
13 year-old Oliver Latham suffers from Cerebal Palsy. He travelled from Powys, Cardiff, for the occasion with his mother Kelly, who commented, “It's so exciting and to see Oliver’s face, especially when Wayne Rooney came in, has been absolutely fantastic; it’s brilliant that the players do this.”
Ten-year-old Jasmine Beedles from St Helens even took away an extra special piece of memorabilia – as Rio Ferdinand was leaving the room she sent Fred the Red after him with a special request, she wanted his hat! Rio kindly obliged and even signed and posed for a photograph with Jasmine and her new cap from his own clothing range.
Jonny Evans was also on hand to lend his support and afterwards explained why attending the event is such an enjoyable experience: “It’s great, we’ve been doing it for years now and it’s something the players always take pride in coming over because the kids idolise United players. So for us to give them a day where they can come and watch training and get a few autographs makes it all worthwhile.”
Ryan Giggs was equally pleased to get involved and praised the effort of the children’s parents. “Some of the children are obviously very ill and it can be hard for them if they are travelling a long way to get to Carrington,” Ryan explained. “So it’s great credit to their family and their parents for the effort they make to ensure they have a good day and everything goes smoothly.”
Such was the Dream Day’s success that Foundation chief executive John Shiels is already planning to hold more events in the near future: “Although most days are uplifting at United, this is probably one of the most uplifting that we will ever be part of and we hope to do it more often,” said John. “It’s a great pick-up for the children and gives them a bit of a boost, so all in all it’s a win-win for everybody.”