Fundraising best pals Freddie and Hughie win prestigious Pride of Manchester accolade

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An inspirational leukaemia patient and his fundraising best friend who captured the hearts of the nation by raising a staggering £200,000 are among the Pride of Manchester Award winners.

Avid Clarets' fans Hughie Higginson (11), from Higham and Freddie Xavi (10), from Whalley, scooped the Young Fundraisers of the Year Award in a ceremony featured on YouTube yesterday evening (Thursday).

The duo were surprised by BBC Breakfast host Dan Walker who presented the special award to them.

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Despite coronavirus restrictions ruling out a red carpet event, the MEN Pride of Manchester Awards, in partnership with TSB, were back this year to honour the incredible winners.

Fundraising best friends Hughie Higginson and Freddie Xavi with their awardFundraising best friends Hughie Higginson and Freddie Xavi with their award
Fundraising best friends Hughie Higginson and Freddie Xavi with their award

The show, hosted by Kym Marsh, featured dozens of famous faces from Manchester and beyond. It was packed with emotional moments, incredible celebrity surprises, and of course, the inspirational stories of winners.

The beautiful story of Hughie and Freddie's friendship and determination has enabled them to raise more than £200,000 for Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital Charity. And the phenomenal amount of money will be used to save lives and further improve the hospital experience for children just like Hughie.

Hughie, a pupil of Wheatley Lane Primary School in Fence, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in September and began three years of treatment at RMCH. He wanted to give back to the charity, so he prepared to do the Humphrey’s Lantern Walk, but on the day, he was too ill. His best friend Freddie, who is a pupil at Whalley Primary School, took his place, and then did a challenge of his own, running 2km a day in the 50 days leading up to Christmas.

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A signed player at Accrington Stanley's Academy in their Under-10s team, Freddie has raised more than £167,000. Hughie joined him for the final stage, so they could cross the finishing line together on Christmas Day.

Hughie has also raised £9,000 on his own Justgiving page, and the hospital estimates other fundraising inspired by the youngsters brings the total to more than £200,000.

The list of things the boys have enabled the charity to buy include vital life-saving equipment, a supply of fresh fruit for Hughie’s ward and new slushie pouches to soothe the throats of young cancer patients.

Speaking about the "incredible" achievement, Hughie's proud dad, Keiron, said: "We are all so proud of Hughie and Freddie and to win an award of this calibre is just amazing!

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"As a family it’s been a very tough year, but this is something really special and we are so pleased to be able to celebrate this fantastic news. The way Freddie stepped up when a Hughie was diagnosed shows what a great friend he is and their friendship has grown even stronger through this whole process. The boys have got some more exciting fundraising plans for the future too so watch this space!"

He added: "Hughie’s treatment is still going well and he has completed the induction phase of his treatment which has lasted for nine months. He is now entering the maintenance phase of treatment and that will last for a further three years and he will still be going to the RMCH every two weeks for blood tests and monthly for chemo. The hospital is now seeing the funds Hughie and Freddie have raised being out to use with the slushies and regular fresh fruit deliveries to the ward being firm hit. The boys are also involved in projects to redevelop the hospital gym and also redevelop the teen room into a brilliant get away area for kids whilst on long stays in hospital. Hughie and Freddie Pride of Manchester just incredible! "

Freddie's mum, Sarah went onto say: "We are so proud of both Freddie and Hughie. I would just like to say a massive thank to everyone who has supported them throughout their fundraising - people who have donated, cheered on the lads while running or even shared their story because each one of these people have played their part in supporting the phenomenal fundraising."

You can watch the Pride of Manchester Awards ceremony by logging onto

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