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Kevin Sinfield OBE
Kevin Sinfield OBE
Published: Saturday, 30th December 2023

Oldham Council Leader Cllr Arooj Shah has issued heartfelt congratulations after rugby legend and charity fundraiser Kevin Sinfield was made a CBE in the King’s New Year Honours.

The former Leeds Rhinos star has been named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the New Year Honours after winning the hearts of the nation with his incredible sporting challenges to raise money for his former Rhinos teammate Rob Burrow, who was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in December 2019.

Kevin, who had an illustrious 20-year playing career which began at Waterhead ARLFC, has raised over £15million since his friend was diagnosed with the incurable and life-limiting condition, in December 2019. Rob, 41, from Pontefract, has also been recognised with a CBE for services to Motor Neurone Disease Awareness.

Oldham-born artist Brian Clarke, 70, the world's leading artist in stained glass known for his large-scale stained glass and mosaic projects, has received a knighthood for his services to art in a career spanning more than 50 years.

And Oldham Sixth Form College principal Jayne Clarke, Executive Principal of the Pinnacle Learning Trust, has received an OBE for services to further education.

English rugby union coach Kevin is a former professional rugby league player for Leeds Rhinos, England and Great Britain. Since retirement he has also become a prominent fundraiser for charities associated with Motor Neurone Disease.

Earlier this month he raised a million in a week, smashing his £777,777 target inspired by Rob and his playing number 7, with his 7-in-7-in-7 ultra-marathon challenge.

Kevin, the defence coach for the England national team, visited cities around the UK and Ireland to raise money for those impacted by MND.

It was the fourth endurance fundraiser for the 43-year-old who has vowed to never give up his incredible fundraising efforts until a cure is found for MND.

The challenge saw him run an ultra-marathon every day for seven days in seven cities, with an extra mile each day to show support for the MND community.

Kevin and team raised funds for the Motor Neurone Disease Association, Leeds Hospitals Charity to help build the Rob Burrow Centre for MND, The Darby Rimmer MND Foundation, Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association and My Name'5 Doddie Foundation set up by Scottish rugby player Doddie Weir, who died from the condition last year.

In March Kevin received the title of Honorary Freeman of the Borough, the highest award a council can bestow upon a person, in recognition of his eminent services and inspiring achievements to the borough and its people.

Kevin, one of one of the most successful players in Super League history, became one of 27 people to receive this rare local achievement, joining the likes of former Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill, suffragist Marjory Lees and Olympic gold medallists Nicola White and Matt Walls.

Kevin holds records as the highest points-scorer in Super League history with Leeds Rhinos from 1997 to 2015, captaining the team to seven Super League championships and two Challenge Cup successes. He was winner of the Lance Todd Trophy in 2005, the Harry Sunderland Trophy twice in 2009 and 2012 and is one of only five British players to win the prestigious Golden Boot.

He won 26 caps for England, which he captained, and a further 14 caps for Great Britain. He retired from playing in 2016 after switching codes to the Rhinos’ sister club Yorkshire Carnegie in 2015 to 2016.

Painter and architectural artist Brian's work include the largest stained glass work ever produced, spanning almost 2,392 square feet and the 46ft-high stained glass pavilion, The Stamford Cone in Connecticut.

Over the years, he has also created stained glass for commemorative works including the Holocaust Memorial Synagogue in Darmstadt, Germany, and in 2010 he designed artwork for the Papal Chapel of the Apostolic Nunciature in London, for Pope Benedict XVI's state visit.

Between 1990 and 1993, Brian designed a series of three interrelated roof lights in stained glass for the Spindles Shopping Centre in his hometown, among the largest stained glass windows in Europe and some of the largest public artworks in the UK.

Last year, he designed and fabricated large-scale stained glass windows for the new Brian Clarke Church of England Academy in Oldham, which is named after him. The spinning mill crest for the school was also designed by Brian to symbolise industry, working hard and working together.

His exhibition, A Great Light, celebrating his 70th year is currently on show at Damien Hirst's Newport Street Gallery in London and 2024 will see him working on a commission for Bahrain Airport.

Jayne from Holmfirth has been executive principal for the Pinnacle Learning Trust, formed through the long-standing relationship between The Hathershaw College, Oldham Sixth Form College with Werneth Primary School joining the Trust in February 2019 and Broadfield Primary joining in April 2023, since 2017.

Jayne, a former psychology teacher, has been principal at Oldham Sixth Form College since 2010. She is a member of the Sixth Form Colleges Association Council and Chair of their Funding Committee, along with chairing the North West SFC Principals Group.

Oldham Council Leader Cllr Arooj Shah said: “Huge congratulations to Kevin, Brian and Jayne and all of the recipients of the New Year Honours.

"Kevin's achievements as an incredible athlete and as a human-being are truly inspiring, literally going that extra mile for Motor Neurone Disease.

“He has enjoyed a glittering career in rugby, as both a player and as a coach, while inspiring future generations in Oldham with both his sporting achievements and his charity work, bringing increased publicity to the fight to find a cure for this life-limiting illness. 

"Brian is widely regarded as most important artist working in stained glass today and a shining example in his field, with major installation projects all over the world.

"And Jayne has worked hard to ensure that children and young people in Oldham have access to excellent educational provision with the aim of raising aspirations and achievements."

“The borough wishes them all every future success. We couldn’t be more proud.”

Other Oldhamers recognised for their brilliant work and efforts over the years are: Mahbubur Rahman, who received the British Empire Medal for services to charity and his community and Elaine Linda Robinson, who has been made a Member of the Order of the British Empire - for services to children with special educational needs and disabilities.

Elaine is the founding member of Parents of Oldham InTouch and Oldham Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Support Service.

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