THE Lord Mayor of Bradford has praised the "wonderful" work of the city's burns research unit - as a fundraising appeal in aid of it nears the £250,000 mark.

Councillor Joanne Dodds visited the unit at the University of Bradford yesterday and hailed it as a pioneer for plastic surgery research and work across the world.

She also praised everyone who has donated to the Burns Unit Appeal, which has seen £242,642 raised so far, from a target of £300,000 to mark the 30th anniversary of the Bradford City fire disaster.

"I asked to go up there because I have always been curious to go and visit it," said Cllr Dodds. "They do such wonderful things.

"And with the 30th anniversary and all the wonderful fundraising that has been going on, it has really raised its profile. I wanted to see what they are doing and what it is about.

"It was fantastic - I have learned so much. We had a presentation on different aspects of the burns unit, all the work that has been done, and how Bradford has embraced it and raised the profile.

"What it has done and what it has enabled people to do has had an impact right across the world. They are really leading the way, they are real pioneers. It is massive."

The unit's consultant plastic surgeon and director of research, Ajay Mahajan, said: "It was very nice to have the Lord Mayor at the unit. She was very interested in what we do and she wanted to see first-hand what the work involved. It was impressive to see how interested she was."

Alan Carling, of the Burns Unit Appeal, said: "It was an honour to have the opportunity to report to the Lord Mayor on the progress of the 30th anniversary commemoration, and to discuss how deeply the impact of the tragedy is still felt in Bradford. At the same time, the tragedy has had the effect since the beginning, against all the odds, of bringing people together."

On the fundraising appeal, Cllr Dodds said: "The appeal and the raising of the money keeps this research unit going and that is what's vital.

"The people of Bradford, we have to thank them because they have really got on board with it to raise money to keep it going.

"It is a special thing for Bradford."

Mr Mahajan added: "It has been a fabulous journey. When we started off we were hopeful of a figure and we knew there was a lot of community support for us. And, truly enough, we are nearly there.

"It goes without saying how thankful we are to people."

Mr Carling said a special thank you to fundraisers would take place at City's game with Peterborough United on Saturday. He added: "I am grateful to Bradford City for arranging a special presentation at game this Saturday. This will be a big thank you to all those whose efforts have contributed to the fundraising achievement.

"It will also highlight some of the recent projects, including Bradford schools' Claret and Amber Days, which have raised £28,000. More than 60 schools that took part have been invited to send representative pupils and parents or teachers to attend the game, and to witness the presentation.

"The target for this special year of fundraising is £300,000 – we are almost there, so it would be great if the donations and fundraising efforts could continue, and be paid in to the appeal via Bradford City or direct to the Burns Unit (PSBRU) as soon as possible."