Rob Burrow backs £5m charity appeal to build state-of-the-art Motor Neurone Disease centre in Leeds

Rob Burrow

A state-of-of-the-art purpose-built care centre of excellence for those living in and around the Leeds area is the latest fundraising appeal from Leeds Hospitals Charity as they announce a plan to raise £5 million to build The Rob Burrow Centre for Motor Neurone Disease, spearheaded by the Leeds Rhinos player Rob Burrow and his family.  

Rob has been courageously sharing his story of motor neurone disease with the public since he was diagnosed last year at the age of 37, and he has raised the profile of the condition beyond all expectations. He refers to his care at the Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust, Seacroft Hospital, where the MND centre is currently based, in his latest autobiography, and a BBC documentary, also filmed at Seacroft, is currently shortlisted for a Television Award, for which the winner is due to be announced this Thursday.

There are currently around 80 people like Rob being treated for MND in Leeds, double the number of people the service supported 10 years ago. 

Since he was diagnosed, Rob has actively campaigned to help raise awareness and raise funds in support of MND charities and having excelled in his sporting career, he now plans to support the creation of a centre of equal standards that will benefit many more people living with this disease alongside his friends and close supporters former Leeds Rhinos player Kevin Sinfield and actor Matthew Lewis. 

Despite the obstacles he faces, Rob is supporting people with MND through Leeds Hospitals Charity’s appeal, he says:

“Imprisoned in the brutality of MND, my vision is that people diagnosed with MND hear the news in a calming and tranquil sanctuary. I envisage a beautiful, welcoming building that is user and family friendly. A place where patients feel comfortable to bring family members into a safe and homely environment for them, with signs of hope and optimism. For carers of those with MND it is important to know that their loved ones are in the best possible place. Something every MND sufferer and their families deserve.  Although the news won’t be any better, it will be easier to come to terms with in a purposely built care centre that meets the needs of every MND patient.”

The Leeds Rhinos Foundation, official charity of the Leeds Rhinos where Rob played professionally for 16 years, have been the first to pledge a phenomenal £50,000 in support of the charity’s appeal.

The appeal for a new MND centre recognises the need for a dedicated centre in Leeds, providing a better patient environment.

Originally built in the early 20th century with care for infectious diseases in mind, the current home of the Centre is now showing its age. Significantly, the technology relating to the care needs of people with MND has moved on, whilst the building remains the same. The current MND centre is located on a busy multi-purpose ward not built with MND patients in mind and without the ability to be fitted with equipment and facilities for those who are physically impaired.

Thanks to high profile figures, like Rob Burrow, talking openly about their experience with MND, this hidden disease is beginning to emerge from the shadows and the harsh reality of just how many people it affects is poignant. 

Matthew Lewis, actor, and close friend of Rob who provided the voiceover for his audiobook, wavered any fees to donate to charity, he says:

“Absolutely thrilled that the ball is now officially rolling on the fundraising campaign for the Rob Burrow MND care centre. It’s so typical of Rob that he is thinking about other people and planning on how he can improve the quality of life for others. His friends, family and teammates always knew he had their back and now people who may be diagnosed with this terrible illness in the future can be sure he’s looking out for them as well. What a guy.”

By donating to the charity’s appeal, you can support the creation of a bespoke centre, which will see all MND services housed under one roof for the first time. Here, patients will have access to a range of holistic support tailored to their needs, from speech and language therapy, to diet and nutrition advice, and physiotherapy.

Patients will see consultants from Neurology, Palliative Care, Respiratory medicine alongside a multidisciplinary team of highly skilled professionals.

Dr Agam Jung, Consultant Neurologist who leads the MND team at Seacroft Hospital says:

“We want to provide a safe haven for our patients and their families – a peaceful environment that reiterates to them that they have the best possible care, helping them ‘live in the now’, a serene place that instils hope and courage.”

The vision is for a space that is bright and modern, that has windows and gardens, with spaces for families to be together, or quiet rooms to reflect in after difficult conversations.

Esther Wakeman, Chief Executive of Leeds Hospitals Charity hopes the new centre will provide a space for patients and their loved ones to enjoy special moments together and spark a change to MND care across the nation:

“We recognised the need for a dedicated centre in Leeds, which we know will make a huge difference to many affected by this cruel disease. I can envisage our centre becoming a flagship in the UK and I hope that this will inspire others to replicate this up and down the country, offering thousands of MND sufferers the best quality of life and help us get closer to finding a cure one day.”

The charity hopes that thanks to donations, this purpose-built centre will transform the hospital experience for people with MND, their loved ones, and our NHS heroes caring for them.

You can donate to the appeal and find out more through Leeds Hospitals Charity’s website https://www.leedshospitalscharity.org.uk/pages/category/mnd-centre-appeal