‘We need £50 million and government assistance to combat MND, or more lives will be lost,’ says Doddie Weir.
Weir, a former Scotland international, has been a vocal advocate for motor neuron disease since his diagnosis in 2017.
Since being diagnosed with the incurable condition in 2017, Doddie Weir, a former Scotland rugby forward, has become one of the most well-known and respected campaigners for research into motor neuron disease.
Weir, 51, spoke to me from his home on a farm in the Scottish Borders about Scotland’s chances of following up last Sunday’s 15-13 win over Australia with a repeat performance against world champions South Africa at Murrayfield today, and a first Six Nations title since his team won the old Five Nations in 1999.
“Scotland will need the same level of performance as they did when they beat Australia, plus half as much on top,” he says.
“South Africa is a tough bunch of people; they aren’t world champions for nothing.”
Weir will be unable to attend because his mobility is severely limited and deteriorating, as he describes so movingly, eruditely, and without self-pity in his latest book, Doddie’s Diary, which spans October 2018 to September this year.
But first, we looked at the progress of the ‘United to End MND’ campaign, which is asking the UK government for £50 million in matched funding to help fund research.
“We haven’t yet managed to conjure up the £50 million,” Weir says.
“There are a lot of people rattling tins right now, especially after the 18 months we’ve had to deal with during the pandemic, so where the money goes is something that needs to be carefully considered.”
“Apart from that, I believe the MND case is compelling and deserves more attention.
When I began this journey five years ago, public perception was miles ahead of where it is now.
However, many of the people who gave the MND fight a voice and a presence are no longer with us.
This will continue to be the case until the government steps in.”
Weir admires Kevin Sinfield’s support for Rob Burrow, another MND sufferer, but the tartan-loving Scot, who was once dubbed “a mad giraffe” by rugby commentator Bill McLaren, also reminds us to remember the “tens of thousands” who have contributed to the fighting fund.
“They’re champions,” says the announcer.
UK news summary from Infosurhoy
‘We need £50 million and government assistance to fight MND – or more lives will be lost,’ says Doddie Weir.
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Doddie Weir: ‘We need £50m and government help to fight MND – or more lives will be lost’