Thomas and Daniel's unforgettable experiences

Wednesday 03 April 2024 16:00

Brothers Thomas and Daniel had a week that any Reds supporter could only wish to experience – in recognition of their involvement with Manchester United Foundation.

Two years separate Thomas, eight, and Daniel, six, who attend Newtown Primary School in Carlisle, a partner school of Manchester United Foundation.

The Foundation aims to provide young people with unique experiences, that can often have a life-changing impact on participants – and that’s proven so for Thomas and Daniel, who twice made long family journeys from Carlisle to Manchester in the last month, without knowing the immense surprises awaiting them.

The youngsters were first invited to watch United face Everton, thanks to tickets gifted to the Foundation from club partner adidas for every home fixture at Old Trafford.

Buzzing for United! Video

Buzzing for United!

Manchester United Foundation participants Thomas and Daniel were overjoyed by this ticket surprise...

“When we told them they were going to the match, they were absolutely ecstatic,” recalls mum, Kayleigh, who didn’t reveal the surprise until the morning of the game. “They’ve followed Man United for as long as they’ve been into football.

“We’d been to Old Trafford for a stadium tour last year, but this was the first time they’d been able to attend a match. They both said that the atmosphere was brilliant.

“Everyone at Old Trafford was so helpful with getting us seated and where we needed to be. They had a brilliant day and enjoyed every second; they were absolutely buzzing!”

That visit alone would evoke memories to last a lifetime, but as a heart-warming clip of the boys’ reaction to the surprise surfaced, there was more to come.

Thomas and Daniel see primary delivery officer, Adam Whitfield, on a daily basis in school – as their primary point of contact with the Foundation. After their news of the initial Old Trafford visit, one week on, primary delivery officer, Adam had another surprise to share – a trip to Carrington Training Ground, courtesy of adidas.

Kayleigh said: “When we got the Carrington invite, this time we pretended we were going camping. But when we started seeing signs for Manchester, they asked, ‘Where are we actually going?’”

So when Thomas and Daniel arrived at Carrington, and saw Adam awaiting them, they were suitably pleased already – but as Adam suggested going to meet the players, their excitement levels went through the roof.

Thomas and Daniel outside Old Trafford, on the morning of United facing Everton.

“For the whole week until it actually happened, it didn’t feel real,” continued Kayleigh. “They lost their heads when Adam told them and were so excited. Thomas was crying his eyes out – with happiness! It was phenomenal, absolutely life changing.

“We had such an intimate experience. As the players were coming out after training, Daniel was shouting the players’ names at the top of his voice. They were all individually greeting us and giving us cuddles, handshakes – we got those special moments with them.”

Thomas and Daniel were chosen for the initial opportunity of watching the Everton fixture by Adam, citing their exceptional attitude, enthusiasm and personalities, during sessions. Daniel in particular, who lives with cerebral palsy, is admired by all around for him, for his resilience and determination.

On his condition, Kayleigh added: “Daniel is affected with his mobility, he has quadriplegic cerebral palsy to all four limbs.

“But he has always been so resilient and finds his own way around everything. Whatever he wants or needs to do, he gets on with it and does it – between his walker and wheelchair.

Harry Maguire greets Thomas and Daniel.

“He has that personality where he chucks himself into every situation and is idolised by staff and teachers.

“Words can’t describe how proud I am of Thomas and Daniel,” she continued. “They’re both just so grateful, thankful and polite. Adam has done some mentoring with them both, he does some sports in all the classes. They both love it and always can’t wait to see Adam’s face on a Monday! We’ll be forever grateful for this being made possible.”

The Foundation’s Partnerships Manager, Philippa Harrison, concluded: “We are so pleased to be able to give our participants experiences like this courtesy of our partner adidas, especially in cases like Thomas and Daniel’s, who hadn’t previously been to a match at Old Trafford. It is amazing to see how these enrichment opportunities can positively shape young people’s goals and aspirations for the future.”

Thomas and Daniel's experience were reward for their fantastic work on Manchester United Foundation projects.

Manchester United Foundation’s outreach work in Carlisle is an extension of its delivery across Greater Manchester – where community and education programmes are delivered to help young people make positive life choices, and to ensure that they feel safe, happy and empowered.

During the 2023/24 season so far, the Foundation has distributed over 400 tickets to participants from its programmes, courtesy of club partner adidas.