Rob Burrow's final wish fulfilled with groundbreaking of new MND centre in Leeds

Kevin Sinfield at the groundbreaking of the new £6 million Rob Burrow Centre for Motor Neurone Disease in Leeds,
-Credit: (Image: PA)

Kevin Sinfield joined the family of the late Rob Burrow for a poignant event on Monday, following Burrow's death at 41 on Sunday, after a battle with MND.

Sinfield, a close friend and former teammate at Leeds Rhinos and England, was present alongside Burrow's parents Geoff and Irene for the groundbreaking ceremony of the Rob Burrow Centre for Motor Neurone Disease. The ceremony marked a proud yet emotional moment, especially for Geoff and Irene, who were visibly moved during the event. The duo has been instrumental in raising approximately £15 million for charity, and one of their projects saw significant progress with the commencement of the new £6 million facility at Seacroft Hospital in Leeds.

Irene Burrow shared her thoughts with 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, joined by key architect Toby Ingle, Leeds Hospitals Charity's director of fundraising, Paul Watkins, consultant neurologist Dr Agam Jung who was pivotal in Rob's clinical care team, specialist nurse Claire Lang and fundraiser Katie Dowson who lost her father to MND, all gathered for the groundbreaking event.

Geoff, his dad 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, the boss of Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, shared on 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".