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School raises £3,500 for Rob Burrow MND centre

Sponsored Swim at Ilkley Pool (L-R) MNDA representative Jackie Johnson, pupils Sophia, Joshua, Alexia, Julie Tomkinson, John Tomkinson and family

Ghyll Royd School has raised over £3,500 for the new Rob Burrow Centre for Motor Neurone Disease.


The School and Eco-Council pupils organised a sponsored swim on Thursday 22nd February 2024 to raise funds for the new centre in honour of a teaching assistant’s family. Mrs Julie Tomkinson is taking care of husband John who was diagnosed with MND last year. John and Julie are much-loved members of the Ghyll Royd community, and the children and staff chose to support this cause for their fundraising challenge this year.


Children in Reception held their sponsored swim on Monday 19th February during their weekly lessons. Years 1-6 completed their lengths during their lesson on Thursday 22nd February at Ilkley Pool.


The challenge was to collectively swim 22 kilometres, the equivalent of swimming from Ilkley Pool to the Rob Burrow MND Centre site at Seacroft Hospital in Leeds.


All together the children exceeded their target and swam 1,340 lengths, equal to 33.5 kilometres. The Tomkinson family were present to witness the sponsored swim. The total amount raised from the swim was £3,554.10, which has been donated to the Leeds Teaching Hospitals fundraising account.

Mr David Martin, Headteacher of Ghyll Royd School, was moved by the children’s fundraising idea: “When we were given the news of John’s diagnosis, the whole school was affected. Julie and John are valued members of the Ghyll Royd family and when the children instigated the idea of a sponsored swim in their school council meeting, I felt so proud. All the children tried their best and swam as many lengths as they could, all the while with the biggest smiles on their faces. We have raised a fantastic amount which we hope will help not only John, but others affected by Motor Neurone Disease.”


Jackie Johnson, a representative for Motor Neurone Disease Association was also present at Ilkley Pool for the event: "It was good to see the children rising to the swimming challenge with such enthusiasm and determination to support school friends John and Julie and the wider MND community who will also benefit from the funds they have raised.


“Motor Neurone Disease (MND) affects the nerves known as motor neurones. These nerves are found in the brain and spinal cord and help tell your muscles what to do. Messages from the motor neurones gradually stop reaching the muscles which results in the muscles becoming weak, stiff and wasting. Everyone is different, but walking talking, eating, drinking and breathing can all be affected."


The Rob Burrow Centre for Motor Neurone Disease will cost £6.8 million to build and will help people with the disease access the best support. Over £5 million has already been raised through donations and raising awareness of the condition by Rob Burrow and his former Leeds Rhinos teammate Kevin Sinfield.

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