On Friday 4th November, we unveiled a new photo exhibition at Leeds Train Station, inspired by Leeds rugby legend Rob Burrow.

The pop-up exhibition ‘7 Stories of Motor Neurone Disease’ showcases the impact of the disease on seven people, including Rob. 

The exhibition will tour across key locations in Leeds to help raise awareness and funds for Leeds Hospitals Charity’s appeal to build the new Rob Burrow Centre for MND.

Esther Wakeman, Chief Executive of Leeds Hospitals Charity, said:

“Seven people, including Rob, bravely volunteered to tell their stories for this powerful exhibition. Rob is an absolute hero to the MND community for the courage he, and his family, have shown. We are just under half-way to our target to build the new Rob Burrow Centre for Motor Neurone Disease; the hope is this exhibition inspires people to help get us to the finishing line.”

Many of those featured in the exhibition have signed up to the Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon on 14 May 2023, to help raise funds for the new centre.

The new centre will be run by Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust. It will provide an uplifting space, and be the first of its kind in Europe.  The design will be led by the holistic needs of the patient and their families, creating a supportive environment that complements the expert team providing the care.

Dr Agam Jung, Consultant Neurologist at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said:

“I’m really looking forward to seeing 7 Stories displayed in public spaces across Leeds and seeing the impact they will have. This feels like a really important step forward in helping the public understand Motor Neurone Disease further, something that Rob Burrow and his family have so bravely led on. I am fortunate to work with, and care for, so many more people like those who have shared their stories for this exhibition. Despite the devastating nature of this condition, this is a really uplifting collection of stories that gives a voice to the people who have felt the impact of MND. My hope from this is that more people will understand what it is like to live with the disease, and why it’s so important we have the right facilities to care for them. If you can help us to make the Rob Burrow Centre for MND a reality, please donate.”

Rob Burrow and his wife, Lindsey, are patrons of Leeds Hospitals Charity. 

Rob Burrow said: “I’m humbled, and thankful of the brave efforts of MND patients and their loved ones in their resolve to help make this vision of a new centre, a reality. I’m also proud to put my name to this new centre, which will have a vital and lasting legacy. It will be a haven for patients and their families. It will also importantly, be a place of hope. I am still defying the odds, with a smile on my face. I won’t give up.”

Featured in the exhibition are those whose loved ones have died of MND. Katie Dowson, 39 from Ilkley, lost her dad and her “hero” Warren to MND in 2018. Katie has raised over £10k in his memory to date.

Dr John Hamlin, 53, works at Leeds Teaching Hospitals, his wife Susie died of MND when she was 45. He’s raised over £34k in her memory.

Dr Hamlin said:

“It needs to be highlighted just how cruel MND is. The disease slowly paralyses previously fit, healthy people and dramatically cuts short their lives. People think it’s relatively rare, but it’s going to affect one in 300 people in our lifetime. So, it is a significant disease, with a significant impact, not just on the patient but on the family and friends around them.”

Retired nurse, Jude de Vos from Holmfirth, climbed Ben Nevis to raise funds for her son Jody, who died of MND in 2017 aged 38. Kerry Everett, 50, lost her brother Scott when he was 48 to the disease, and she plans to run the Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon next spring in his name.

The exhibition also showcases MND patients Ian Flatt, 56, from Harrogate, who was diagnosed the same year as Rob in 2019. Ian has undertaken a series of fundraising challenges in his wheelchair, dubbed the ‘tangerine dream machine’, including scaling Snowdon for the charity.

Louise Jordan, 61, a GP from Hope Valley was diagnosed in October 2021 after initially putting down her symptoms to being tired and overworked as a GP working through the pandemic. After a life committed to her patients’ quality of life, she’s determined to raise funds and awareness for the new centre. She said, “The new Rob Burrow Centre for MND will be a huge source of hope, comfort and positivity.”

MND affects the nerves in the brain and spinal cord. It is a life-shortening disease with no cure. Although the disease will progress, symptoms can be managed to help achieve the best possible quality of life. It can affect adults of any age but is more likely to affect people over 50. There is a 1 in 300 risk of being diagnosed with MND.

Find out more about 7 Stories of MND