“LIFE cannot get any better at the minute,” said the mum of a North Berwick youngster who took centre stage ahead of the Manchester Derby last Saturday evening.

Charlie Kay, an avid Manchester City fan who has cerebral palsy, was invited to be the side’s mascot for their Premier League match against arch-rivals Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium.

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It was part of Charlie’s Challenge to walk 179 miles – the distance between his home in North Berwick and his team’s home ground – to raise money for Muirfield Riding Therapy and East Lothian Special Needs Playscheme.

Initially, Charlie and dad Martin were going to attend the game, which United won 3-2, but Manchester City contacted the family to offer Charlie the opportunity to be the team’s mascot after seeing his story on social media.

The Premier League giants also provided two more tickets, allowing Charlie’s mum Melanie and younger sister Meredith to attend too.

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The family at the Etihad

Despite the result, Melanie hailed a “phenomenal” experience for the 10-year-old as he led City out alongside club captain Vincent Kompany in front of 54,259 fans in the stadium and millions watching on TV.

She told the Courier: “It was just absolutely amazing.

“We went down and got a tour of the stadium and saw all the players’ jerseys hanging up.

“Manchester City have been absolutely fantastic – he was their first ever mascot with a physical disability and they were really helpful.

“I think he has paved the way for them to be a more inclusive club.

“I help run the Beach Wheelchairs in North Berwick and we took down a walker and a Hippocampe chair, which is what we ended up using.”

She revealed that the Law Primary School pupil also met players and officials from his beloved side, and even had a chance meeting with Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho (see below).

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She added: “Charlie was going to the lift to head upstairs after the game but the lift wasn’t being used, so he had to go past the Man United dressing room.

“Jose came out and Martin asked if we could have the picture, which was lovely – they were really supportive even though he isn’t a United fan.

“He didn’t get much of a chance to speak to the players because they were all very focused but they signed his shirt and [injured defender Benjamin Mendy] was having a joke with him.

“The whole thing really was surreal.”

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Charlie had his shirt signed by Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola

Melanie also added that her son, who plays disability football with Tranent Colts, was “over the moon” after being name-checked on TV.

Melanie and husband Martin only told a delighted Charlie that he would lead the side out last Monday, and they appeared on Sky Sports News on Friday.

“They spotted an article in the Courier and got in touch. It really has been incredible,” she said.

Anyone who wants to contribute to the 10-year-old’s efforts is being asked to consider a £2 donation, split between the two causes.

Buckets are available in North Berwick Sports Centre and the town’s community centre.

Alternatively, email Melanie at melkay@btinternet.com