First published in the Saddleworth Independent
KEVIN Sinfield may be the one who has received an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list but he is adamant it is not all about him.
It is about everyone who helped in his ‘Seven in Seven’ marathon effort and it is about pal and former team-mate Rob Burrow.
The Grasscroft-based rugby league legend – now Leeds Rhinos’ director of rugby – has received recognition for charitable fundraising in the latest batch of honours.
His OBE after he raised £2.7 million for Burrow and the Motor Neurone Disease Association adds to the MBE he received in 2014 for services to the 13-a-side game.
Sinfield completed seven marathons in as many days, five around Saddleworth and two in Leeds, in December.
The money raised will go to further research the condition, which his former Leeds team-mate is living with, in the hope of finding a cure.
But even though it is an individual honour, it recognises far more than one person.
Sinfield said: “It’s just a huge honour. I think the work we’ve done for Rob in particular – and I say we – it’s all to do with that.
“I just feel really honoured by it, it’s absolutely for all those people who’ve given a little bit of themselves towards helping Rob and making his journey a little bit easier.
“And then, of course, to all of the Burrow family. It’s for them too.
“To get some recognition for that is lovely but not by any stretch do I feel it’s about me because it isn’t. It’s about everybody who’s played a small part.
“And I’m very grateful that people challenged by MND daily understand that people care about them.”
Sinfield learned he was getting the OBE about two weeks ago, when he received an email which he was not sure was a wind-up.
But while the money he has raised has a huge effect on the research into MND, what he and his team did has had an equally big impact on him.
He added: “The rugby stuff was brilliant but I’ve got such a great deal of satisfaction from the bits we’ve done for Rob and the MND Association.
“All of us involved have been touched by the support, the generosity and the love and respect that people not only have for Rob but the whole MND community.
“I feel pretty selfish on the back of the 7 in 7 as I never thought doing something like that would give me that satisfaction and warm glow I got. Ultimately, we were all just trying to help a mate.
“It’s been a massive change for me. It’s been the greatest thing I’ve been a part of.
“The awareness that’s been generated will hopefully help so many families, not only around the UK but worldwide.”
Sinfield has promised to do another ‘Seven In Seven’ later this year, but it will not be purely running marathons.
But just from the first edition, which saw him run through freezing weather around the area in which he lives, he has proved he is deserving of the honour.
Sally Light, chief executive of the Motor Neurone Disease Association, said: “I have personally worked with Kevin over the last 18 months as he has raised funds and awareness for the Association, inspired by his long-standing friendship with Rob, who is now living with MND.
“I have found him to be a very generous and humble man, who simply wants to support people living with this brutal disease.
“His fundraising, awareness raising and friendship with Rob have captured the heart of the nation and all of us in the MND community are thrilled to see such a remarkable show of strength, courage and ultimately friendship recognised in this way.”