Manchester United legend and club ambassador Denis Irwin today visited the Richard Rose Central Academy in Carlisle.
The Academy is one of 29 high schools that the Manchester United Foundation partners with and is the first and only one outside Greater Manchester.
Each school boasts a full time Foundation coach who works with the students and feeder primary schools within the local community.
Although the partnership commenced in January 2020, due to COVID this was the first time the school and Manchester United Foundation have been able to showcase the work done in Carlisle.
Speaking about the visit, Denis said: “I’ve really enjoyed coming here today, meeting and spending time the kids while also hearing about the great work that the Foundation does with them.
“Coming out of the pandemic, the opportunities we can provide will be crucial to their development.
During the visit, the former Manchester United and Republic of Ireland defender enjoyed dropping into some lessons, including an English class and a PE session where he couldn’t resist having a kickabout with the Year 8 pupils.
Student Ella told us that Denis’ visit caused excitement across the school: “The energy in school today was great; I play football and play in defence like Denis did, so to get his advice was really good.
“Since the Foundation came to our school, I’ve had the opportunity to go to a game at Old Trafford, visit the training ground and have a tour of the stadium – it’s been amazing.
“In school, we are offered so much support; it really has changed the school for the better.”
Following the kick about, Denis took part in an assembly hosted by principal Dan Markham and a Q&A session with the whole school, sharing stories from his illustrious Manchester United career and giving the children advice.
“Our ambition is to broaden horizons and create lifelong memories and this is what today has been about,” Dan said. “Hosting a true legend in Denis Irwin has been such a highlight and it was great to hear him talk to the students about how he explored an academic career before embarking on one in football, demonstrating that it is worth trying different things in order to find their path.
“Since the Foundation came in, we’ve discovered that it’s something we can’t do without.
“We’re committed to delivering an all-round learning experience and through our partnership with Manchester United Foundation, Carlisle United Trust and Riverside Housing Association, it gives the students an extra insight into what the world is about.”
This sentiment was echoed by Denis Irwin, who looked forward to seeing the results of the partnership in the years to come:
“I’m really familiar with the work the Foundation does in Greater Manchester partner schools, so it’s great to see us branching out and providing these incredible opportunities for young people a little further afield.
“The facilities here are great and I know that Jess is leading the project very well, so I have no doubt that this partnership will go from strength to strength.”