Leeds Rhinos legend Rob Burrow spearheads £5m fundraising appeal for new state-of-the art MND centre in Leeds

A £5m fundraising campaign has been launched today to build the The Rob Burrow Centre for Motor Neurone Disease - a new state-of-the-art centre planned to improve care for patients in Leeds.

Tuesday, 7th September 2021, 6:00 am

The Leeds Rhinos legend and his family are spearheading the appeal, which has been launched by Leeds Hospitals Charity to create a dedicated centre in the city for patients with MND.

Rob has been courageously sharing his MND story - and raising the profile of the condition - since he was diagnosed in December 2019 at the age of 37.

In his autobiography, he refers to his care at the Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust’s Seacroft Hospital, where the MND centre is currently based, and a BBC documentary, also filmed at Seacroft, is currently shortlisted for a Television Award.

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Leeds Rhinos legend Rob Burrow is helped toward the pitch by wife Lindsey at Headingley Stadium. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

The city’s MND service currently supports around 80 people like Rob in Leeds - double the number supported 10 years ago.

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And the current centre is located on a busy multi-purpose ward which was not built with MND patients in mind and without the ability to be fitted with equipment and facilities for those who are physically impaired.

Rob said: “Imprisoned in the brutality of MND, my vision is that people diagnosed with MND hear the news in a calming and tranquil sanctuary.

Charity appeal: From left, Leeds actor Matthew Lewis, Rob Burrow and Dr Agam Jung, consultant neurologist who leads the MND team at Seacroft Hospital.

“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 within a purposely built care centre that meets the needs of every MND patient.”

Dr Agam Jung, consultant neurologist who leads the MND team at Seacroft Hospital

The Leeds Rhinos Foundation, official charity of the Leeds Rhinos where Rob played professionally for 16 years, has been the first to pledge cash towards the appeal, with a phenomenal donation of £50,000.

Leeds-born actor Matthew Lewis, who is a close friend of Rob and provided the voiceover for his audiobook, is also backing the cause. He said: “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.”

The new centre will see all MND services under one roof, with patients able to see consultants in neurology, palliative care and respiratory medicine as well as accessing a range of holistic support including speech and language therapy, diet and nutrition advice and physiotherapy.

Dr Agam Jung, consultant neurologist who leads the MND team at Seacroft Hospital, said: “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.”

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:

She said: “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.”

For more information and to donate to the appeal visit https://www.leedshospitalscharity.org.uk/pages/category/mnd-centre-appeal

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