Asda CEO Roger Burnley has announced he will take on the role as Chair for the Westfield Health British Transplant Games when the event comes to Leeds in 2021.
The event, organised on behalf of the charity Transplant Sport, is a flagship event that aims to raise awareness of the life-saving benefits of transplantation. Transplant athletes are due to travel from across the UK to West Yorkshire next summer to reunite after it was announced that the 2020 Games were postponed due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Burnley will chair the event’s Stakeholder Board – the group responsible for delivering the Games in each host city. He was moved to take on the role after his own daughter, Jodie, underwent a double lung transplant aged 18.
Jodie was born with cystic fibrosis, a genetic condition that affects the lungs and the digestive system. A severe lung infection in her late teens led to Jodie being on oxygen 24-hours-a-day before her life-saving transplant took place. Her gift of life came from an anonymous donor after their family decided to donate the organs. This is a decision Roger says his family are grateful for every day:
“Eight years on, Jodie is fighting fit, has got a master’s degree from the University of Leeds and runs her own business. I can never express how important transplantation has been for our family and how eternally grateful I am to Jodie’s donor. Sadly, too many people do not have the same outcome. While the law has changed to be opt-out rather than opt-in, many families do not know that their next of kin wished to donate their organs and can overrule this decision.
“That’s why I want everyone to have the donation conversation with their families, so that our loved ones are aware of our wishes. It’s a talk that could save someone’s life.”
A born and bred Yorkshireman, Roger has been President & CEO of Asda since January 2018. As well as being a keen football fan, runner, snowboarder & sailor, he’s passionate about the city of Leeds and believes it will be a fantastic location for the Games in August 2021, when athletes will take part in more than 20 sports in venues across the city.
Roger says: “Leeds is a fantastic, vibrant and diverse city, with a great sporting heritage and world-class facilities. Leeds always turns up for sporting events, whether that’s the Tour de France or Tour de Yorkshire, the Triathlon, the Half Marathon, Tests at Headingley or matches at Elland Road. I’ve no doubt that participants will be given a brilliant reception.
“It’s also a great boost for our city, especially the leisure and hospitality sectors, at a time when many of our great businesses need it most. I hope that everyone will get behind the Games and show the very best of what Leeds has to offer.”
Roger will lead a board made up of representatives from Leeds City Council, the University of Leeds, Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust, charity Leeds Cares and Visit Leeds, as well as games organisers and members of the board of trustees for Transplant Sport. The British Transplant Games 2021 will continue to be backed by long-term supporters Westfield Health, Kidney Care UK and Anthony Nolan.
Dr Paul Harden, Chair of Trustees for Transplant Sport says: “Due to 2020’s British Transplant Games being cancelled, it’s more important than ever that we deliver the best possible Games in Leeds in 2021 for our transplant community. We are thrilled that Roger has stepped up to the plate to help us do this, we can’t think of anyone better for the job, with more dedication to his city and indeed with vested interest in our important cause. With just one year to go until we arrive in Leeds, we are officially on a countdown!”
For more information on the British Transplant Games, visit: https://www.britishtransplantgames.co.uk/