The family of Doddie Weir are determined to find a cure for Motor Neurone Disease for the thousands of people still living with the deadly condition.
Rugby legend Weir was a tireless campaigner in his mission to end MND after he was diagnosed with the disease until his death at the age of 52 in November.
The former Scotland star’s wife and sons now say it is their duty to carry on his good work and insist “we will find a cure”.
As well as playing 61 times for the national team during a 20-year senior career, he also launched the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation after his diagnosis in 2016 and helped to raise over £8m for MND research in the six years he lived with the condition.
Interviewed publicly for the first time since her husband’s death, Kathy Weir, with two of their three sons Hamish and Angus at her side, told of the importance of carrying on the charity that carries her husband’s name.
Speaking on the Lorraine show on Friday morning, Kathy said: “We will find a cure for MND. Doddie might not be here now but there’s a lot of other people still living with MND, so I think it’s important that we all do carry on.”
Hamish added: “He [Doddie] set out a baseline for us all to create this charity and raise awareness, the best thing we can do is to carry on that legacy and keep fighting to find a cure.
“It’s bigger than just dad, as such. There’s a lot of people living with MND, as mum mentioned, and if we can do anything to help, we’re here to do that and we’ll keep striving to find that cure.”
Although Doddie’s final years were dominated by MND, his sons explained how the disease was rarely talked about in the family, and never stunted the rugby legend’s famous sense of humour – whether in the home, or during one particularly scary incident on holiday in New Zealand.
Angus said: “It [MND] was never a conversation we had – we’re always an upbeat family and probably stayed away from the truth. There were a lot of joys and giggles around the house”.
He continued: “That’s just the way he’s raised us, we probably take after him a lot more than we wish to admit. If there’s anything we can do we’re certainly going to do it.”
Hamish added: “After he was diagnosed, we had a trip to NZ without him knowing a timeline. When we were out there, we had a camper van for a couple of weeks which was great at the time.
“Down in Queenstown we had a helicopter trip – classic dad he likes to get a wee giggle and he’d paid the pilot off before we went up, so we took off in the helicopter and we’re up the mountains and the pilot cut the engine off and we started free falling.
“You’ve never heard a bunch of boy’s squeal like that in all your life. So, we won’t be rushing back to the helicopter that’s for sure.”
Wearing cycling outfits in the now iconic blue and yellow Doddie Tartan, Kathy, Hamish, and Angus were speaking as they prepared to join Rob Wainwright, Doddie’s Scotland and British & Irish Lions teammate, and more than a hundred riders for the last 30 mile leg of their 555-mile journey from Principality Stadium to BT Edinburgh Murrayfield.
The group will deliver the match ball for the Scotland v Wales Doddie Weir Cup clash in the Six Nations on Saturday – the first match at the national stadium since Doddie’s death.
Kathy added: “Hopefully we will do our 30 miles in 50 hours, whereas they are doing their 555 miles in 55 hours, so we’ve got an easier task but we’re going to enjoy it.”
The ride takes place during the last week of Doddie Aid 2023, a national fundraising event where over 38,000 fundraisers across the UK have already rallied to raise as much money as possible for MND research.
The teams are aiming to raise over £500,000 which includes generous sponsorship from Glenkinchie, Milwood Capital, John Clark Motor Group, Atkins, Rapid Relief Team (RRT), INEOS, GAWS, Thrifty, Wood Foundation, Univar Solutions, Bailie Gifford, Baker Hughes, Spaceships Rentals, JT3, CEF, Isle of Coll Distillery, Halliburton and Babble.