Kevin Sinfield receives Oldham’s highest honour for rugby achievements and Herculean charity fundraising

Kevin Sinfield OBE, a former Leeds Rhinos rugby star and renowned charity fundraiser, has been awarded one of Oldham's highest honours.

In a ceremony held before local councillors and close family members, the former Leeds Rhinos star was officially presented with the title of Honorary Freeman of the Borough – the highest recognition the council can bestow upon an individual.

The 42-year-old athlete was recognised for his exceptional services and inspiring achievements to the borough and its people, following his appointment by the council in March 2021.

Sinfield joins an esteemed list of 27 individuals to receive the rare local achievement, including former Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill, suffragist Marjory Lees, and Olympic gold medallists Nicola White and Matt Walls.

As one of rugby league’s greatest-ever kickers, Sinfield enjoyed a successful 19-year playing career before transitioning into coaching.

He currently serves as the defensive coach of England’s national Rugby Union side, cementing his status as a highly respected figure in the sport.

Sinfield has also captured the hearts and minds of the nation with his incredible fundraising efforts for his former teammate Rob Burrows, who was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in December 2019. In his latest challenges, he completed seven marathons in seven days and seven ultra-marathons within a week, raising millions of pounds for charity.

Speaking to I Love Manchester, Kevin said: “It’s a great honour to receive this recognition from my home town and I want to thank Oldham Council for this special commemoration.

“I am also exceptionally thankful for the support the people of this town have given me over the years, especially since my retirement.

“Your overwhelming support for my teammate Rob Burrow through his journey with Motor Neurone Disease, and the backing you have given me to raise funds for this important cause has been incredible so thank you.”

The Honorary Freeman of the Borough award recognises Sinfield’s remarkable contributions to the community and his outstanding achievements on and off the rugby field. His dedication to charitable causes and commitment to making a positive impact have earned him the respect and admiration of the Oldham community and beyond.

Leader of Oldham Council, Councillor Amanda Chadderton, added: “Kevin is a remarkable athlete and a truly inspiring and generous individual, and we couldn’t find a more fitting way to honour his achievements than with the greatest award our borough can bestow upon him.

“Not only has Kevin enjoyed a successful career in ruby, both as a player and a coach to inspire the next generation of players in our town, he has also completed incredible challenges for Motor Neurones Disease.

“He is a terrific human being and the entire borough is immensely proud of what he has achieved so far, and what he continues to do.”


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