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Craig Jones

Rob Burrow Strictly Ball will see Strictly's Dan Walker, Nadiya and Kelvin Fletcher judge celebrity dance competition

Emmerdale star Kelvin Fletcher will be teaming up with Strictly stars Dan Walker and Nadiya Bychkova for Rob Burrow’s big charity event.

Leeds Rhinos legend Rob Burrow, 39, was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND) in 2019. Since then, the rugby star and his family have worked tirelessly to help raise awareness and funds for several charities, including Leeds Hospitals Charity £5m appeal to build The Rob Burrow Centre for Motor Neurone Disease.

Rob’s sisters are hosting a star-studded Burrow Strictly Ball to help raise money for the campaign. Joanne Hartshorne and Claire Burnett have danced for 30 years and competed across the UK - winning national competitions in Ballroom and Latin dancing. The Rob Burrow Strictly Ball is happening at the Howard Suite at Headingley Stadium on Saturday, March 19.

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BBC Breakfast presenter Dan Walker and his Strictly Come Dancing partner Nadiya Bychkova will be judging those performing on the night - they will perform a special dance. They will be joined by fellow Strictly winner and Emmerdale star Kelvin Fletcher on the panel as well as comedian Jon Richardson.

Nadiya said: “I love to dance and there is nothing like it for bringing people together. Daniel told me all about Rob and his family and I can’t wait to be part of a very special night.”

Leeds Rhinos legend Rob Burrow shown plans for The Rob Burrow Centre for Motor Neurone Disease (Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust)

Over 400 tickets have already been sold for the event So far, the event has raised £40,000 for the charity. Charles Hanson from BBC’s Bargain Hunt will host a live auction on the night.

Organiser Joanne said: “I’ve done a number of Strictly-themed charity fundraising events over the years and right after Rob was diagnosed, after getting over the initial shock and devastation, it was a natural response to try and do something positive as a family. Claire and I have all the dance contacts, and Rob has all the celebrity contacts, and people find it difficult to say no to Rob. We have 11 celebrities already signed up to take part.”

Celebs expected to be in attendance supporting the event include BBC Look North’s Tanya Arnold and TV presenter Helen Skelton. Dancers include former Leeds United star Brian Deane, Leeds Rhinos Legend Barrie McDermott and Leeds Hospitals Charity’s ambassador Dr Amir Khan among others.

Since the Rob Burrow Centre for Motor Neurone Disease appeal launched in September 2021, £1.6m has been raised thanks to support from the people of Leeds, the UK and beyond. Rob and his family appreciate the support they’ve received.

Joanne said: “We didn’t expect the response on social media and the event to be so big. We really want to raise as much awareness for the Rob Burrow Centre for Motor Neurone Disease in Leeds. It’s great to give something back and the laughter that this has produced within the family has been a real tonic. We are following in Rob’s footsteps and by his example, as he is so positive and passionate about the new centre.”

The bespoke centre will see all MND services housed under one roof for the first time. Patients will have access to a range of holistic support tailored to their needs, from speech and language therapy, to diet and nutrition advice, and physiotherapy.

Leeds Hospitals Charity is the charity of Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust. It supports Leeds General Infirmary, Leeds Children’s Hospital, Leeds Cancer Centre, St James’s University Hospital, Chapel Allerton Hospital, Seacroft Hospital, Wharfedale Hospital and Leeds Dental Institute.

Dr Khan said: “Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust is one of the biggest hospitals in the UK. Leeds Hospitals Charity raises crucial funds to support research, equipment and buildings to support NHS staff to deliver the best care for over a million patients and their families each year, so being ambassador is a role I am very proud of. The new Rob Burrow Centre for MND will make a huge difference to patients’ lives, their families and loved ones.”

You can find out more about the appeal and the event here. We wish everyone the best of luck with the fundraiser.

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