First diggers on site for the new Rob Burrow Centre

Following the sad news of the death of Rob Burrow, the ground-breaking has taken place at Seacroft Hospital in Leeds 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. Leeds Hospitals Charity says there is now £1 million left to reach the £6.8 m fundraising target. Prior to his death, Rob Burrow, CBE, shared this message for the ground-breaking: “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.”

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust announced plans to build a new centre for MND patients, and Leeds Hospitals Charity launched its fundraising appeal, in September 2021.Since then, Rob Burrow and Kevin Sinfield have taken their awareness-raising and fundraising activities for the MND community ‘to the highest heights’, with referrals to the Leeds MND service doubling, and technology and research having moved forward.

The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust says 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 the new centre’s design and functionality have been led by project managers from Leeds Teaching Hospitals and architects, Corstorphine + Wright, since July 2023. These have incorporated the views of patients, their families, and carers, and addressed the needs of clinical staff and other specialist services.

The new centre covers a space of over 1,000 m², 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 elements.

The Trust explained: “The idea is that patients can benefit from real-world situations when testing devices and mobility aids, specialist areas for speech and language therapy, dietetics, neurology, respiratory and palliative care, and 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.”

Pictured, from left to right, are: Toby Ingle, Lead architect, Corstorphine and Wright; Paul Watkins, director of Fundraising, Leeds Hospitals Charity; Geoff Burrow, Rob’s father; Dr Agam Jung, Consultant neurologist; Claire Lang, Specialist nurse, and Katie Dowson, Fundraiser affected by MND.

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