The event, hosted at Old Trafford, raised a fantastic £266,000, which will make a difference to children both worldwide and in the local community through Unicef and the Foundation. These funds will go towards helping some of the world’s most vulnerable children affected by disasters and those living in the most disadvantaged areas of Greater Manchester.
Offering fans the chance to rub shoulders with the Manchester United squad, the black-tie event was hosted by Sky Sports reporter Geoff Shreeves, and there was also live entertainment from singer-songwriter JC Stewart and rock band Toploader.
Fundraising games and a live auction offered guests the chance to win a number of exclusive prizes, including a pair of limited-edition adidas Barcelona ’99 trainers, personally signed and presented to the winning bidder by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer this evening.
Solskjaer said: “I’ve seen the work of both charities and the projects and opportunities they provide. When you see smiles on the children’s faces and you can give them experiences they wouldn’t normally have; that’s fantastic. We know we’re in a fortunate position and we can make a difference.”
Funds raised from the gala dinner will be split between Unicef’s Children’s Emergency Fund and Manchester United Foundation. The Emergency Fund allows Unicef to act wherever the needs of children are the greatest around the world. Unicef responds to around 300 humanitarian emergencies each year in some of the most dangerous places across the globe.
Nick Roseveare, interim executive director, Unicef UK, said: “Thanks to Manchester United, the players and fans, over the last 20 years United for Unicef has had a huge impact on the lives of millions of children around the world. Our partnership has helped rebuild the lives of children caught up in emergencies all over the world, thanks to quick and sustainable support including life-saving food, water and medicines, as well as a safe space to learn and play. Funds raised from tonight's gala dinner will enable Unicef to reach even more of the world's most vulnerable children."
Manchester United Foundation uses the power and passion of the club to engage young people through football coaching, educational programmes and personal development, providing them with opportunities to achieve their goals and change their lives for the better, no matter their background or circumstance.
Foundation chief executive John Shiels said: “Every child matters: that is the only motivation my team needs when delivering our community programmes throughout some of the most deprived areas of Greater Manchester. Evenings like this bring home the value and strength of our United family here at Old Trafford and I’m so proud of the generosity that will go so far this evening.”