Barnardo’s and Red Letter Days team up to gift Ilford teenage carer a day with hero Patrice Evra

Footballer Patrice Evra turned up at the home of 16-year-old Ian Nelson-Harding to surprise him with a track day, as part of ...

Footballer Patrice Evra turned up at the home of 16-year-old Ian Nelson-Harding to surprise him with a track day, as part of an initiative between Barnardo's and Red Letter Days. Picture: Red Letter Days - Credit: Archant

An Ilford teenager has been treated to his dream day thanks to a charity campaign that rewards unsung heroes.

Patrice spent the day with Man United fan Ian, who has been recognised for the work he does in caring for his mum and younger...

Patrice spent the day with Man United fan Ian, who has been recognised for the work he does in caring for his mum and younger brother. Picture: Red Letter Days - Credit: Archant

As part of an initiative of the same name, Barnardo’s teamed up with Red Letter Days to whisk 16-year-old carer Ian Nelson-Harding off to a track day with his hero Patrice Evra.

Manchester United fan Ian — a carer for mum Drucilla, who suffered a posterior circulation stroke in 2018, and his younger brother who has autism — was given the shock of his life when the former footballer knocked on his door.

Red Letter Days enlisted the help of the once Manchester United captain, who was only too happy to cheer Ian on as he sped around a Kent race car track in a ferrari and lamborghini.

To cap the day off, the online experience retailer arranged it so that a home delivered meal from Searcy’s would be waiting for Ian and his family when he got home.

Ian got to whizz around the Brand’s Hatch race car track in a Ferrari and Lamborghini as part of the Unsung Heroes campaign o...

Ian got to whizz around the Brand’s Hatch race car track in a Ferrari and Lamborghini as part of the Unsung Heroes campaign organised by Red Letter Days. Picture: Red Letter Days - Credit: Archant


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Ian — supported by the Barnardo’s Young Carers’ Service in Ilford — has dealt with huge changes admirably in his young life; after his mum’s stroke two years ago, Ian assumed a host of responsibilities in terms of caring for his family, all whilst juggling a hectic school life.

While the family are assisted by Barnardo’s Wellbeing Hub and Redbridge Council, Ian has really had to step up at such a young age.

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To help him manage this, the 16-year-old mixes with other people in similar situations by attending the Young Carers’ Service.

After his day out, the 16-year-old was brimming with gratitude — both for the surprise and for Barnardo’s: “It was great to meet Patrice Evra. I had the most amazing day with him at the race track. It’s something I’ll never forget. Coming to Barnardo’s has made such a big difference to me. The staff are really supportive and they have encouraged me to speak more openly about the challenges of being a young carer.”

Patrice said Ian “deserved every minute” of his special day, adding that the teenager is “truly insiring”.

Both Barnardo’s and Red Letter Days were thrilled they could join forces to make Ian’s dream come true, with the latter also supporting Barnardo’s Kidsmas appeal which aims to raise vital funds to support vulnerable children across the UK.

For further information, visit kidsmas.barnardos.org.uk and redletterdays.co.uk/making-memories.

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