Following the sad news of the death of Rob Burrow, the ground-breaking took place on 3 June 2024 at Seacroft Hospital of the new Rob Burrow Centre for Motor Neurone Disease (MND). It was Rob’s wish, supported by the family, to mark this significant milestone. The event was attended by many of the project’s supporters, including clinical staff, fundraisers, architects, patients and their families, Rob’s parents and sisters, and Kevin Sinfield.

With the build expected to take around a year, work has now started. This news is joined by an update from Leeds Hospitals Charity that there is now £1 million left to reach the £6.8 million fundraising target.

Prior to his death, Rob Burrow, CBE shared this message:

“I’m absolutely delighted. Today marks a significant milestone not just for me, but for everyone battling motor neurone disease in Leeds and the surrounding region. This care centre, named in my honour, stands as a beacon of hope and support. It’s a place where patients will find not only medical assistance but also the compassionate care and understanding they deserve, for them and for their families. Our journey with this disease is challenging, but together, through this centre, we will create a community that uplifts and empowers each other. My dream is that every person who walks through these doors feels supported, understood, and never alone. This centre is for all of us, our shared sanctuary.”

Dr Agam Jung, Consultant Neurologist, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, who leads the MND team at Seacroft Hospital says:

“I can’t believe that we have reached this moment. It has been an incredibly fast-paced journey from my initial idea and discussions with Rob and Lindsey Burrow in 2020 to breaking ground now in 2024! I have so many emotions at present, gratitude being the foremost and of course immense pride as well. What we thought was a pipe dream in 2020 will soon become a reality taking us a step forward for our patient care and MND services.”

I&G Managing Director, Christopher Carline, said: “We’re extremely proud to have been entrusted to build this new centre for motor neurone disease; it’s a life-limiting condition that has a profound effect on people diagnosed, as well as their friends and family, so we’re delighted to be able to deliver a centre that puts their needs at the heart of the local community it will serve, alongside the dedicated charity who have worked tirelessly to get to this stage.”

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust announced a plan to build a new centre for MND patients and Leeds Hospitals Charity launched their fundraising appeal in September 2021. During this time, Rob Burrow and Kevin Sinfield have taken their awareness-raising and fundraising activities for the MND community to the highest heights, referrals to the Leeds MND service have doubled and technology and research have moved forward.

The new building represents a flagship centre in the North of England, where MND patients can be seen, their families and carers can be supported and where clinical specialists can work together and agilely adapt to the ever-changing advances of the condition.

Stakeholder sessions to work on design and functionality of the new centre have been led by project managers from Leeds Teaching Hospitals and architects Corstorphine + Wright since July 2023. These have incorporated the views of patients, of their families and carers, of the needs of clinical staff and of other specialist services. The building will be an iconic landmark with sustainability at its core. It is hoped that research will be a part of future services.

Professor Phil Wood, Chief Executive, Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust says:

“It’s a sad day but it’s also a day to celebrate – we are starting work today on the Rob Burrow Centre for Motor Neurone Disease, a centre that was Rob’s vision. The new centre will help advance our patient care, best practice sharing and hopefully research in the long term, which will be such a fitting legacy for Rob. Rob’s vision was very much at the centre of this project and his determination and grit that he demonstrated throughout his life and his illness is really what’s got us here today.”

The new centre covers a space of more than 1,000m² and the designs are impressive, arranged as a series of three primary forms with a light and spacious atrium, and surrounded by the green trees of the Seacroft site. Wheelchair-accessible parking to serve the facility and newly landscaped garden are key parts of the centre.

The idea is that patients can benefit from real-world situations when testing devices and mobility aids and specialist areas for speech and language therapy, dietetics, neurology, respiratory and palliative care, as well as functions including a large therapy space, a procedure room and an area to allow patients to digitally ‘bank’ their voices if they use a digital aid to support communication.

The building will provide holistic and seamless care at a one-stop centre, allowing a greater sense of cohesion and stability for patients. MND patients have complex, changing needs. By designing the centre to meet these needs, all patients who are treated here will receive the best care they can for their condition.

You can donate to the appeal and find out more through Leeds Hospitals Charity’s website