Leeds to say final farewell to Rob Burrow at special live-streamed event in Civic Hall - here's how to watch

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Leeds will say a final farewell to Leeds Rhinos legend Rob Burrow CBE at a special event this week.

The commemoration on Friday (July 12) will take place at Leeds Civic Hall and will see friends and family come together to celebrate the sporting hero’s remarkable achievements.

Rob, who has been a huge advocate of charities since his diagnosis with MND (motor neurone disease) in 2019, died after a four-and-a-half-year battle with the condition last month.

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James Hardisty

The special event will feature speeches and videos celebrating his sporting exploits and his inspirational fundraising work.

The Lord Mayor of Leeds, Coun Abigail Marshall Katung, will formally welcome attendees and make an opening speech.

Other speakers include Rhinos board member and Rob’s former team-mate Jamie Jones-Buchanan, MND Association chief executive Tanya Curry, and Coun James Lewis, leader of Leeds City Council.

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The assembled guests will also hear tributes from Tom Riordan, the chief executive of the council, the Lord-Lieutenant of West Yorkshire, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, and Paul Watkins, the director of fundraising at Leeds Hospitals Charity.

Fittingly, the event is being held in the Civic Hall's banqueting suite, which was also the location for the 2023 ceremony where Rob was awarded the freedom of Leeds.

It is an invite-only event, but will be streamed live online so people can watch as the city honours the national hero.

This Friday’s civic event – which has been jointly organised by the council and the Rhinos – gets under way at 11am. The public will be able to watch it here.

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Rob’s death at the start of June prompted a huge outpouring of emotion across the country, with a sea of flowers and shirts being left by fans outside the AMT Headingley Rugby Stadium, home of the Rhinos.

There were unforgettable scenes before the father-of-three’s funeral on Sunday (July 7), as thousands of people lined the streets of Pontefract to applaud and pay their respects during his cortege’s journey to Pontefract Crematorium.

Coun James Lewis, leader of Leeds City Council, said: “It’s our privilege to be honouring Rob’s life and achievements with this civic event, where the speeches and other tributes will show once again just how much he meant to our city.

“The event has received support from councillors right across Leeds, who speak with one voice when they talk about his special place in the affections of the communities they represent.”

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The Lord Mayor of Leeds, Coun Abigail Marshall Katung, said: “The love and respect that has been expressed for Rob since he passed away has been incredibly moving to see. He made a massive difference to life in Leeds, both on and off the pitch.

“I’m pleased and proud to have the opportunity to welcome so many distinguished guests to the Civic Hall on Friday for an occasion that I’m sure will be poignant and uplifting in equal measure.”

Gary Hetherington, chief executive of Leeds Rhinos, said: “On behalf of everyone connected with Leeds Rhinos, I would like to thank Leeds City Council for hosting this event to honour Rob’s memory.

“The outpouring of love and support for the whole Burrow family since Rob’s passing has been a testament to how much he meant to so many people, especially here in Leeds.

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“I am sure the family will take comfort from all the tributes that will be paid to Rob and I hope as many fans as possible will be able to watch online on Friday and be part of this special occasion for the city of Leeds.”

Rob made nearly 500 appearances for the Rhinos between 2001 and 2017, winning eight Super League titles, two Challenge Cups and three World Club Challenge trophies.

He was a committed ambassador for club and city, giving enthusiastic support to the community-based work of the Leeds Rhinos Foundation and initiatives such as the council’s Child Friendly Leeds programme.

Following his diagnosis in 2019, Rob spearheaded a Leeds Hospitals Charity appeal to raise funds for a specialist MND care centre, with the ground-breaking on the project taking place at Seacroft Hospital the day after he passed away.

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The council-backed Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon was launched in 2023 and has to date raised more than £7m for charity. The marathon returns next year and entries are open now.

This Friday’s civic event – which has been jointly organised by the council and the Rhinos – gets under way at 11am.

The event comes as the council continues to explore potential ideas for a permanent new tribute to Rob in Leeds.

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