Rob Burrow’s friend Matthew Lewis says the world is ‘less bright’ without him

Actor Matthew Lewis has said the world is “a little less bright, a little less optimistic” without Rob Burrow.

Lewis, best known for his role as Neville Longbottom in the Harry Potter film series, voiced the audiobook version of Burrow’s autobiography, Too Many Reasons To Live, and was a close friend of the former rugby league player.

Burrow died at the age of 41 on Sunday, after a four-and-a-half year battle with motor neurone disease (MND), and had long been a campaigner for raising awareness of the condition.

Rob Burrow File Photo
Rob Burrow, who was battling motor neurone disease (MND), died at the age of 41 on Sunday (Zac Goodwin/PA)

In a post to X, formerly Twitter, Lewis wrote: “Took a couple of days to think about what to say about Rob. I think everyone knows by now the kind of man he was. The talent. The courage. The kindness.

“I grew up watching him play as a boy. Got lucky enough to be his friend. And had the pleasure to spend time with him and his beautiful family.”

He said knowing Burrow was “one of the greatest privileges of my life” and described voicing his autobiography as “the most undeserved of honours”.

“A world without Rob is a little less bright, a little less optimistic”, the actor added.

“But his legacy will be as great as he was. The Rob Burrow Centre for MND will be built. And it will be the beginning of the end for this disease.”

Lewis encouraged others to consider donating to the campaign set up to raise funds for the centre, before signing off: “Overcoming adversity, forevermore. Love you man x.”

Two years after his rugby retirement in 2017, Burrow revealed his MND diagnosis and began fundraising and campaigning to raise awareness of the disease and to improve care and research.

Before his death, he spearheaded a £6.8 million appeal for a centre for those with MND living in and around the city.

On Monday, the groundbreaking of the Rob Burrow Centre for MND at Seacroft Hospital in Leeds went ahead as planned at Burrow’s request, with his family saying he “would be looking down and smiling”.

Burrow was made an MBE in the 2021 New Year Honours list for his services to rugby league and the MND community and was promoted to a CBE in the 2024 New Year Honours.