Exclusive: No Regrets, Targets Or Tears: Burrow’s Bid To Fly Flag For Doddie

Lindsey Burrow has spoken to The Sportsman about telling Rob about Doddie Weir's passing
07:00, 11 Jan 2023

Lindsey Burrow has revealed she was worried about telling Rob of Doddie Weir’s passing, but has since found her husband even more determined to fight for a cure.

Weir was Rob Burrow’s inspiration, a towering former Scotland rugby union international who succumbed to the brutal effects of Motor Neurone Disease in November. Having been told he would be wheelchair-bound within a year of his 2016 diagnosis, Weir instead made it his mission to find a cure. He raised the hopes and outlook of MND sufferers worldwide, including league legend Burrow.

And in an exclusive interview with The Sportsman, Lindsey has explained how the tragic loss of his friend and ally has merely strengthened Rob’s own resolve.

“I was worried for Rob when we got the news about Doddie,” she admits.

“We were down at my mum’s at the time and I thought I would wait to tell him. I didn’t want to tell him in front of everybody as I didn’t know how shaken he would be or how he would react.


“But he just said ‘I’m going to keep banging the drum for Doddie and carry on his work, in his name’.

“Doddie saw Rob a week after he was diagnosed and it was such a turning point for us. He gave him so much hope, to accept the diagnosis but fight the prognosis.

“He’s been to our house and they kept each other going. He’ll be sorely missed but Rob will fly the flag, though perhaps without the tartan trousers!

“He leaves a fantastic legacy behind and hopefully one day when a cure is found then that is down a big part to Doddie.”

Leeds Rhinos hero Burrow was given his own devastating diagnosis in 2019, only two years after his glittering rugby league career ended with another Grand Final win. He was given two years to live. The rapid early decline in his health was alarming, but he has since stabilised, with Lindsey revealing no further deterioration as they head into 2023.

“He’s really good and has plateaued health-wise without any significant changes. He is still battling on with that infectious smile.

“Christmas was chaotic with my 40th, Sports Personality and various Christmas events with the Macy, Maya and Jackson.

“But having the kids at home and seeing them happy always brightens Rob’s day up. There’s never a dull day in the Burrow household.

“We don’t set goals or targets for the New Year as I’d have not done them by the first week of January! Rob hasn’t set any resolutions either other than to keep hitting his milestones.

“Macy goes to high school this year plus we have the Leeds Marathon (Lindsey is running the 26.2 mile distance for the first time).”

Lindsey admits that keeping her own schedule full has helped cope with the tragic direction the family’s lives have taken. Arguably their biggest decision since diagnosis was to allow BBC cameras access to Rob’s suffering. It meant a private and unassuming family opening their doors to the world while at their most vulnerable. A difficult but brave decision that has allowed an unprecedented awareness of MND, and one of which they have no regrets.

“You are almost on a conveyor belt when life is so busy and you get caught up in the moment. But I have no regrets about opening up as we have - people didn’t know about MND like they do now. Maybe there was some shame and embarrassment (of the disease) before but people are aware and understand it now.

“It’s quite surreal and I’m always thinking people will be fed up of seeing us. I’m sick of seeing myself on telly, I don’t particularly like the limelight or the attention.

“But it isn’t about us, it’s about helping others with MND by sharing our story. You do look back at the legacy Rob has created and some of the things he has achieved and it is incredible.

Rob even enjoyed a rare night out with friends in December, leaving Lindsey at home as he roared with laughter through a Ricky Gervais comedy gig in Manchester.

As for Lindsey, training for a first ever Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon in May has placed a further demand on a diary that already includes carer, mother of three and work as a physiotherapist.
We are speaking after a session of hill runs, with a 14-miler looming the following day. The goal of the event is to raise funds to build a specialist MND hospital in Leeds in Rob’s name.

“I’m running about 40 miles a week but I feel guilty taking the time out to do the long runs as I have to do it when the kids are out or at my mum’s.

“I’m not going to break records but just doing your bit and enjoying the event is enough. It will be brilliant to do that for Rob. I am a bit nervous but I’ll never forget the reason I started it, and that will be enough to finish it.

“The reality is that my legs and my body will heal, every step is for Rob.“

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