The Prince of Wales made a very special visit to Headingley Stadium in Leeds yesterday for his first engagement of 2024 – to give Rob Burrow and Kevin Sinfield their CBEs personally.
Burrow, 41, and Sinfield, 43, are former rugby players for Leeds Rhinos, having played together for 14 years, and developing a close friendship.
They have teamed up to raise awareness and funds for the fighting of motor neurone disease (MND) following Rob’s diagnosis three years ago, just two years after his professional retirement.
MND is a degenerative condition that affects how nerves in the brain and spinal cord function – one for which there is no cure.
Since then, he and Kevin have helped to raise astonishing amounts of money for research into the disease and set up the Rob Burrows Centre for MND. Rob is also a Pride of Britain award winner, and recently got Mike Tindall to reveal he calls his cousin-in-law, Prince William ‘One Pint Willy’!
‘It was you who got the nicknames out of him – he apologised to me about that,’ the Prince joked with Burrow when they met, before he sat down with the men and their families for a chat.
They spoke about their days as players and about the work they have done since to raise awareness for MND, including Kevin’s ‘7 in 7 in 7’ challenge last year – running seven ultramarathons in seven cities in one week! Since 2020, the pair have raised £8 million.
William also had a surprise for Rob, after checking it with Kevin. He had brought with him the men’s CBE’s, which they received in the New Years Honours List for their extraordinary charity work and services to motor neurone disease awareness.
William told Burrow: ‘I’ve brought a special couple of things up with me to give you today. I did check with Kevin to make sure you didn’t want to go down to London to receive this, but I brought your CBEs up here to give to you today if that’s okay, while you’re in your home, in Leeds, surrounded by your family and friends.’
The Prince of Wales continued: ‘You’ve been amazing and everyone’s so proud of you. We’ve been following your case and all the money you’ve been raising, and you’re changing people’s lives with MND.’
Presenting Sinfield with his CBE, William congratulated him before telling him that the ‘brotherly bond and relationship between the two of you has been so amazing to watch – an inspiration to everyone to go, like this is how we help each other. The groundswell you’ve created in terms of fundraising and looking after each other and for MND is huge’.
Before the engagement finished, the Prince received a surprise of his own when he was presented with some gift bags by Macy and Maya, Rob’s daughters, for his own children.