Rob Burrow's family joined by Kevin Sinfield as they help deliver rugby player's final wish

-Credit: (Image: PA)
-Credit: (Image: PA)

Rugby legend Kevin Sinfield joined Rob Burrow's grieving family just a day after he passed away at an emotional event to help deliver his final wish.

Burrow, who was 41, died on Sunday, four and a half years after being diagnosed with MND. His former Leeds Rhinos and England teammate Sinfield, who had supported him throughout his illness, joined Burrow's family at the future site of the Rob Burrow Centre for Motor Neurone Disease on Monday.

Sinfield, along with Rob's parents, Geoff and Irene, participated in the ceremonial groundbreaking that morning, reports the Mirror. It was a deeply emotional yet proud moment for Geoff and Irene, who shed tears during the ceremony.

Burrow and Sinfield have raised approximately £15 million for various charitable causes in recent years. One of these projects, the £6 million facility at Seacroft Hospital in Leeds, took a significant step forward on Monday. Before he passed, Burrow had expressed to his wife Lindsey his wish for the opening ceremony to proceed, and his wishes were honored.

Rob’s mother, Irene, told BBC Breakfast: “He was asked, we were all there and Rob used his eyes to say yes. There was no hesitation whatsoever, he wants it to go ahead today. The sooner they can get this done the better. Not just for the families, but the professional people there, it will make their lives a lot easier, giving bad news to people.

"He’ll be watching today, we’ve pulled ourselves together because that’s what Rob would have wanted. It’s amazing to be here today for Rob. We’re flying the flag, beating the drum and we will get a cure.”

The Burrow family and Sinfield were joined by lead architect Toby Ingle, director of fundraising Leeds Hospitals Charity Paul Watkins, consultant neurologist and lead in Rob's clinical care team Dr Agam Jung, specialist nurse Claire Lang and fundraiser Katie Dowson who lost her father to MND for the groundbreaking.

His dad Geoff added: “He’ll be up there, looking down saying ‘shut up mother!’ But to have a care centre with his name on it, and not just the centre but having a breakthrough for people with MND so it’s not the hell on earth, it’s going to be a good future for MND sufferers, we’ll make sure of it.”

Professor Phil Wood, chief executive of Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, told BBC Breakfast: “His commitment to getting this over the line. And of course we should acknowledge the work of Kevin Sinfield, in particular, the seven in seven team, his astonishing fundraising helped our partner charity get to this point and realise this vision.

"The determination of Rob and Lindsey, who has been absolutely by his side, and is one of our staff members who has continued to look after her own patients throughout during all of this, which I think is absolutely inspiring.

"It’s a great day for patients and families, not just for Leeds but the wider region. We are very proud of our role in treating this devastating disease.”

Sinfield wrote in a statement on Sunday: “Today was the day that I hoped would never come. The world has lost a great man and a wonderful friend to so many. You fought so bravely until the end and became a beacon of hope and inspiration, not only for the MND community but for all those who saw and heard your story.

“My love and thoughts go to your beautiful family, Lindsey, Macy, Maya and Jackson, to your parents Geoff and Irene, sisters Joanne and Claire and your wider family and friends.

“You will continue to inspire me every single day. I have lost a dear friend and will never forget the special times we shared both on and off the pitch. I would always say that you were pound for pound the toughest player I ever played alongside, however, since your diagnosis, you were the toughest and bravest man I have ever met.

“The last four and a half years you showed the world what living and loving looked like and this was always done with the biggest smile on your face. I will miss you my little mate. All my love, Kev. X”

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