Learning from an inspirational friendship

By Kevin Ward, Conatus Financing Solutions.
When I think about tenacity, I think about the inspirational story of best friends, Rob Burrow and Kevin Sinfield.
Published in UK Director Magazines Summer 2024

Sharing Experience: Kevin Ward, Conatus Financing Solutions

Those of you who know me might be aware of my personal connection to Motor Neurone Disease (MND) and will understand why this story resonates so strongly with me.

Rob and Kevin met as young boys and both played for Leeds Rhinos for their entire careers. At 5’5”, Rob was the smallest player in the Rugby Super League for many years, but he was tenacious and didn’t let his size hold him back. Kevin was the big lad who led the team as club captain.

In 2019, Rob received the devastating diagnosis of MND. He was given just two years to live and sadly passed away on Sunday 2nd June, but was determined right to the end, to raise awareness of the disease and money for the cause, with the support of his friend, Kevin.

On the MND Association website, Rob imparts a powerful message: “First it comes for your voice. Then it takes your legs. It tries to rob you of your breath. But it can’t sap your spirit.”

A friend indeed

Since 2020, Kevin and the team have completed several gruelling endurance events and raised more than £8 million. After running 101 miles in under 24 hours in 2021, he said: “I am broken – I don’t know when I’ll be able to run again.” His love and friendship for Rob had kept him going, requiring an enormous amount of grit and determination. He also credited his team for getting him through each event and said that he couldn’t do it without their support. They said the same of him.

Despite Rob’s father telling him that he has done enough, Kevin’s goal remains fundraising, and he has no intention of stopping until a cure is found. His inspiration is Rob – how he has maintained his sense of humour, defiantly finding happiness regardless of his illness.

Together, they aimed to build the Rob Burrow Centre for MND and it is quite poignant that the spades went into the ground commencing construction on the new centre the day after he passed away.

Achievements and goals

In May 2023, Kevin ran the Leeds Marathon, pushing Rob around the whole course in his wheelchair. I also took part and can confirm that there were some long, steep hills! They planned to cross the line together, arm in arm, but underestimated the physical toll on Rob who was exhausted. As a nation, we watched the emotional scene as Kevin carried Rob over the line – clearly showing the trust and determination between them.

Rob’s wife, Lindsey, also ran that day. A truly remarkable ‘Superwoman’, not only does she care for Rob and their three children, but she also works as a physiotherapist and trained for a marathon too.

What can these inspirational individuals teach us about business?

I believe it’s the importance of setting ourselves goals and having the tenacity to achieve them, even when they are ambitious or things are tough. Work with others and utilise the support on offer. Align your business goals with personal ones – I believe this increases your chance of success.

The possibilities are endless when you demonstrate tenacity.

Following the sad announcement that Rob Burrow had passed away, Kevin added these final thoughts to his article, paying tribute to the man he respected as a shining symbol of tenacity and the spirit of friendship:

“Rob was an inspirational sportsman, friend and family member, and he became a hero to the whole MND community. His determination to keep fighting was exceptional. His desire to work with fellow sufferers, as well as friends and other supporters, to raise the profile of MND and push for help to find a cure, has made an impact few can truly appreciate. He could have just given up. I hope he is now at peace, and we should all remember his positivity.”

We leave the final words to the man himself: “In a world full of adversity, we must dare to dream.” – Rob Burrow

Main photo supplied with the kind permission of MNDA

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Kevin Ward is Director at Conatus Financing Solutions.

T: 07780 438429
E: kevin@conatusfinancing.solutions
Or visit www.conatusfinancing.solutions


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