MBE for Leeds Rhinos legend Rob Burrow as he raises profile of cruel motor neurone disease

This has been a year that has taught the nation to “appreciate the gifts that we have”, former Leeds Rhinos player Rob Burrow has said, as he is recognised for his sporting efforts and for raising awareness of motor neurone disease (MND).

Thursday, 31st December 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Thursday, 31st December 2020, 8:50 am

The 38-year-old father, diagnosed with the degenerative and life-limiting condition in 2019, has been awarded an MBE for services to his sport but the honour additionally respects how he has raised awareness of MND through the pandemic.

Describing it as “truly humbling”, he said: “2020 has taught us all to appreciate the gifts we have and it is my honour and privilege to accept this award on behalf of all the MND community. I hope it gives people hope that we are not ignored and the drive for more research and support to end MND will not stop.”

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Rob Burrow salutes the Rhinos fans. Super League Grand Final 2017: Castleford Tigers v Leeds Rhinos. Old Trafford. Picture Bruce Rollinson

Thanking those in the sport who have shaped him to become “the man that he is”, he added that the way the rugby league community has come together “speaks volumes” about how special it is.

“Finally, I would like to thank my family,” he said. “I know they have always been proud of me. This MBE is for them and I am looking forward to making another special memory when I am able to receive the award.”

Burrow’s former team-mate Kevin Sinfield has helped in a campaign to raise funds and awareness by completing seven marathons in seven days - with the total raised now over £2.6m.

The disease has already robbed Burrow of the ability to speak without a machine and forced him into a wheelchair. Mr Sinfield said he could not be prouder of what his friend has achieved.

“He’s done a wonderful job, and I think any chance you get where you can provide some hope to other people and support is brilliant and he just keeps doing that every single minute.”