Rob Burrow accepts £50k for motor neurone disease centre at emotional Leeds Irish Centre event

Nearly 500 people gave Leeds Rhinos legend Rob Burrow a standing ovation as he accepted a £50,000 donation towards a motor neurone disease centre in his name.

By Abbey Maclure
Saturday, 11th December 2021, 4:45 am
Rob Burrow, 39, and his family were surprise guests at Friday's lunch at which former Leeds United winger Eddie Gray presented him with the donation (Photo: Jonathan Gawthorpe)
Rob Burrow, 39, and his family were surprise guests at Friday's lunch at which former Leeds United winger Eddie Gray presented him with the donation (Photo: Jonathan Gawthorpe)

Business women and men packed the Leeds Irish Centre for the annual Leeds Gentlemen's Christmas Charity Lunch on Friday.

Now in its 22st year, the event has raised nearly £3million in total which goes to charities and good causes across the county.

This year, it has supported the Rugby League star who was diagnosed with MND two years ago.

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Nearly 500 people gave the Leeds Rhinos legend a standing ovation as he accepted the cheque (Photo: Jonathan Gawthorpe)

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The former England and Great Britain player has campaigned to raise awareness of the incurable condition that attacks the nervous system and brain.

Rob launched a £5million fundraising campaign earlier this year to build The Rob Burrow Centre for MND at the city's Seacroft Hospital, backed by the Yorkshire Evening Post.

Pontefract-born Rob, 39, and his family were surprise guests at Friday's lunch at which former Leeds United winger Eddie Gray presented him with a initial cheque for £43,500.

Rob pictured with his parents, Irene and Geoff (Photo: Jonathan Gawthorpe)

Cheers, applause and a few tears were shed as Rob made his entrance on the stage accompanied by his parents, Irene and Geoff.

"I am so grateful for the money raised," Rob said.

"It's extra special because it is in Leeds, near where my dad grew up, and it's the city I played for. The Irish Centre is an iconic venue, it has always been. A bit like Leeds Rhinos!

"My parents and I were so moved by the donations. We can't thank you enough.

"Onwards and upwards for us all. Thank you Leeds, thank you Leeds Irish Centre and thank you to the big hearted business people. It was a privilege to be there today."

Burrow's devoted dad, Geoff, added: "We had no idea we were getting any donation. To get this amount is just fabulous. I was born up the road in Gipton so it is lovely to see my community helping our boy."

The business community donated £30,000 before a further £13,500 was raised from three prizes auctioned off at the event.

Further cash for the centre was raised during the charity lunch - taking the total donation to more than £50,000.

Centre chairman Liam Thompson said: "I am so proud of our centre, members, local community and business people who have raised a fantastic amount.

"I'm as proud we are supporting a Leeds lad - Rob is one of ours and we are thrilled to help his cause."

The Rob Burrow Centre for MND is set to become a flagship centre for both treatment of patients with motor neurone disease (MND) and also research into the condition and possible cures.

And the YEP has teamed up with Leeds Hospitals Charity to launch a campaign to raise the £5m needed for the centre.

The current centre for MND care in Leeds is based in Seacroft and was originally built in the early 20th century with care for infectious diseases in mind.

However, the building is showing its age and while technology relating to the care needs of people with MND have moved on, the environment remains the same.

The manager of Leeds Irish Centre, Tommy McLoughlin MBE, added: "It was a highly emotional and poignant moment for Rob to be given this donation from the city's business community.

"We like to support our own and Rob was loyal in his stellar career to Leeds Rhinos.

"Many people who visit our centre will gain from Rob's amazing efforts when the new MND centre opens. His sporting skills gave many people much pride and pleasure over the years and now it's our turn to say thank you to him and help Rob and other MND sufferers."

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