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Rugby player Rob Burrow campaigned tirelessly for Motor Neurone Disease



England rugby Super League player Rob Burrow was a tireless campaigner who helped raise awareness of Motor Neurone Disease.

Burrow, former Leeds Rhino player, died on Sunday, 2 June aged 41 of Motor Neurone Disease (MND).

After his diagnosis in 2019, Burrow dedicated much of his work to raising awareness of the disease, earning both an MBE and a CBE for his efforts.

As a patron of the Motor Neurone Disease Association, Burrow made public appearances, made documentaries on his experience living with the disease and helped to secure a $50 million investment from the UK government for MND research – inspiring many others to raise funds.

In a special Documentary “There’s Only One Rob Burrow” for the BBC, which Burrow requested to be aired following his death, Burrow provided a poignant final message where he advised people not to waste a moment of their lives.

Burrow opens the speech stating that he hopes that one day “we finally cure and live in a world free from MND”.

Tributes have poured in for Burrow which highlight the impact his work had.

On its website, the Motor Neurone Disease Association stated: “The MND Association is incredibly grateful to Rob and his family for helping to raise awareness of MND, and funds for the Association, by sharing the details of their journey and by inspiring so many people both within the MND community and the wider public.”

The Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor Abigail Marshall Katung, the Leader of Leeds City Council, Councillor James Lewis, and chief executive Tom Riordan, commented: “We are deeply saddened by the passing of Rob Burrow – a freeman of our city, and a hero to so many both on and off the rugby field.

“Rob’s performances for Leeds Rhinos alongside English and Great British rugby league had already secured his legendary status as one of the sport’s true greats, before he faced the toughest of battles against Motor Neurone Disease (MND) with tremendous courage, bravery and dignity.

“His campaigning to raise awareness of MND, and to raise millions to fund a specialist Motor Neurone Disease Care Centre in our city, has been truly inspirational, leading thousands to join him, his family and friend Kevin Sinfield on their journey by taking part in the Rob Burrow Marathon to raise millions for charity.”

The My Name’5 Doddie Foundation, set up in memory of Rugby Player Doddie Weir, who also lived with MND, and which is working to find a cure for MND, stated: “We are so sad to hear of the death of Rob Burrow. Like Doddie, Rob has been a true inspiration for people living with MND. Our thoughts are with Lindsey, their children and all Rob’s family and friends.”

Ex Great Britain and England Rugby League Captain, Jamie Peacock, MBE, stated: “We all knew this day was coming, it was always going to be too soon and none of us wanted to think about it.

“Rob in a sport where courage, bravery and grit are characteristic of every player at the absolute top, you were the most courageous, the bravest and the grittiest of them all. And a sense of humour to match, I’ll always remember you holding court in a dressing room having men twice as big cower because of your take no prisoners sense of wit.

“The world outside of Rugby League got to witness firsthand your courage, bravery, grit and sense of humour in the most difficult of situations in your inspirational battle with this brutal disease.

“Becoming an inspiration for 1000s and a North Star for the MND community, providing hope where before there was none. Never once complaining about your condition and situation. Small in physical stature but a peerless giant in terms of character, heart, spirit, resilience, courage, determination, humour and bravery.

“An inspiration to us all.”