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Celebrating excellence with Harry Pinero and Danny Simpson

Foundation participants were inspired by ethnically diverse professionals in a unique event at Old Trafford

| by Matthew Brown

More than 100 young people met industry leaders from the Black community as Manchester United Foundation and culture group, NuSole, held an inspiring and educational careers event celebrating Black History Month.

Pupils from 10 of the Foundation’s partner high schools enjoyed an insightful day at Old Trafford, where a number of special guests were in attendance to share experiences and stories from their careers so far.

Online content creator and entrepreneur Harry Pinero and former Red Danny Simpson were among the guests for the event, running for a third consecutive year in M16, and both spent time networking and passing on advice to the young people present.

Participants also had the opportunity to speak to representatives from the RAF, high-profile figures in the fashion, hospitality and the financial sectors, and members of Manchester United and Foundation staff.

Luke Ross, a School Partnership Officer for the Foundation and founder of the ‘Celebrating Excellence’ event, said: “I came up with the concept of a collective of Black role models in the community coming together as part of an enriching event for students to receive words of wisdom and encouragement.

“The interaction with the guests and the smiles on their faces has been amazing to see. It’s good to see that engagement and everyone gelling together.”

The young people were incredibly excited when Harry Pinero entered the room, and he was pleased to replicate the passion they showed towards him, by sharing stories of his own life experiences and overcoming adversity.

Harry, a United fan himself, said: “I’ve got a duty as someone who influences a massive young community to showcase my journey and what I’ve been through, but also to be that beacon of hope, because I’ve had a rough upbringing but still made it to where I am now. I love the young kids; they’re so full of life and the way they welcomed me was amazing.

“I want these kids to channel their inner self, and unapologetically be the person that they know they can be. With the support systems they have available to them – the Foundation, NuSole, their teachers – so many people are there to help them, and if they take the advice, they can achieve anything.”

Harry’s impact was clear for all to see – particularly on Dean Trust Ardwick student, Javair.

“When Harry came in, I was shocked, and he told us about the challenges he has had in life,” said Javair. “It just shows that everyone, whether they are famous or not, goes through difficult times that shape them to be the person they are now.

“You get reassurance, and until I came here, there were jobs that I didn’t even know existed. It makes you think, ‘Wow!’”

Danny Simpson also recognised the importance of uniting to support the younger generation.

“This is the Theatre of Dreams – what better place for this to happen,” said Danny. “There are people here who have worked hard in their field and are being successful; it’s great to be a part of that for the kids to see.”

Irene, a student at Foundation partner school Waterhead Academy, expressed gratitude for being able to meet so many successful professionals.

“We celebrate people from different races and genders in different job roles,” explained Irene. “It’s been an amazing opportunity for me, I feel so grateful to have been able to experience this.”

Event founder Luke concluded: “We run the event during Black History Month, but there’s a much deeper meaning behind it. It’s really important that we are coming together as a collective and a community to spread an empowering message to our youth.”