Rob Burrow & Kevin Sinfield: Their perseverance, courage and fundraising accomplishments are deserving of knighthoods

As a journalist, it’s probably not wise to admit that I have struggled to find the words to describe something. But when I saw the footage of Kevin Sinfield passing through Derbyshire on his latest fundraising mission, inspired by his friend and teammate Rob Burrow, it was hard to articulate just how inspirational a pair of men they really are.

Wednesday, 24th November 2021, 1:34 pm
Rugby league player Kevin Sinfield embraces former teammate Rob Burrow after completing his Extra Mile Challenge at Emerald Headingley Stadium on November 23. (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)

Rob Burrow has handled his battle with Motor Neurone Disease with immense bravery. He has refused to allow this to extinguish his spirit, and has instead committed himself to helping others. He has channeled all his energy into raising awareness of this debilitating condition and setting out to raise the funds for a purpose-built MND care centre in Leeds.

To say Kevin Sinfield has put his body on the line to help make this happen would be the understatement of the century. First, it was seven marathons in seven days, a gruelling challenge which saw him raise £2.7 million for the MND Association.

On Tuesday morning, he completed a 101 mile run in 24 hours between Leicester and Leeds, which raised another £900,000. This will be split between the Leeds Hospitals Charity, who will put it towards the construction of the Rob Burrow Centre for MND, and the MND Association.

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They have both been recognised by the Queen already for their efforts- Burrow was awarded an MBE in the 2021 New Years Honours, and Sinfield, who was made an MBE in 2014, was also honoured with an OBE in the 2021 Birthday Honours for services to rugby league and charitable fundraising.

These awards are befitting of the work they have done since Burrow’s diagnosis, but I believe that both should be honoured with knighthoods.

To earn a knighthood, one has to have made some sort of exceptional achievement that surpasses those of others in the same field. Burrow has devoted his final years to trying to make a difference for those who suffer the same condition as he does, and to improving the quality of care and life that people diagnosed with MND will have in the future. Sinfield has undertaken Herculean endeavours to help realise his friend’s dream, with his perseverance perhaps only being eclipsed by his compassion.

In terms of charitable efforts, their accomplishments are stratospheric, but these men are also reminders that good can come from the very worst of circumstances, and that the human spirit is not easily defeated. In recent times, there are few, if any, who can claim to have pushed themselves harder than Rob Burrow and Kevin Sinfield to positively impact people’s lives. Personally, I cannot think of two people more deserving of this honour.