By Paul Watkins, Director of Fundraising, Leeds Hospitals Charity

When Dr Agam Jung approached us in 2020 with her vision to build the Rob Burrow Centre for Motor Neurone Disease, we knew, with the support of the people of Yorkshire, we could make this building a reality.

One of our charity’s core values is ‘Together’ and this has been at the heart of the appeal since it first launched in September 2021.

Every step of the way we’ve worked together. Together with Dr Jung and the MND clinical team, together with the Burrow family and MND patients, and together with thousands of fundraisers and donors, and now together with the architects to design the building.

Of course, there was some apprehension, £6.8 million is a mammoth fundraising target and in the economic climate during COVID, people were struggling financially more than ever.

But, from the moment Rob sat on the BBC Breakfast sofa to announce the appeal, we’ve been overwhelmed by the support we have received. It became clear to us that Rob’s story had inspired and touched the hearts of not only the people of Leeds, but also the entire nation and across the globe.

Read More: The Rob Burrow Centre for MND Blog: Building a Building

It’s hard to pick highlights from the past two years, as everyone’s fundraising efforts have been phenomenal. For me, being part of Kevin Sinfield’s team for the Extra Mile Challenge was an honour. Although I didn’t join in the mammoth run, I was lucky enough to be part of the support team and was behind Kevin every step of the way. 

It was also incredible to see the electric atmosphere at the first ever Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon in May and witness the emotional moment Kevin carried Rob across the finish line. We had over 600 runners, including our patron Lindsey Burrow join Team Leeds Hospitals Charity to fundraise for the Rob Burrow Centre for MND Appeal.

Kevin Sinfield carrying Rob Burrow past the finish line at the Rob Burrow Leeds marathon

Read More: Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon 2024

I am proud that together have now raised £5.3 million in just over two years, an incredible achievement that would not have been possible without support from the public. 

We are now getting closer to hearing the full-time whistle, with £1.5 million left to reach our target to build a centre where people with MND and their families can ‘live in the now.’As the architects work with the hospital Estates and Facilities team, MND clinic staff, patients and families to progress with the build, our fundraising efforts won’t stop.

We’re so grateful to Kevin Sinfield, who raised over £900,000 through his recent 7 in 7 in 7 challenge, his inspirational fundraising has helped us pass the £5 million fundraising mark.

Read More: Rob Burrow Centre for Motor Neurone Disease Appeal surpasses £5 million fundraising milestone

 I’m excited for what’s to come in 2024 with the second Burrow Strictly Ball in April and the Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon in May, there’s lots of ways you can support fundraisers or get involved yourself to help us get one step closer to making Rob’s dream a reality.

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