Rugby legend Doddie Weir heads list of award winners for contributions to Scottish life

Doddie Weir captained Scotland over 60 times   Photo: © Craig WatsonDoddie Weir captained Scotland over 60 times   Photo: © Craig Watson
Doddie Weir captained Scotland over 60 times Photo: © Craig Watson
Rugby legend Doddie Weir and two of the experts who have become familiar names in the Covid crisis have received prestigious awards for their contributions to Scottish life.

Weir, who captained Scotland 60 times and has raised more than £5 million for research and support for Motor Neurone Disease sufferers, was named winner of this year’s Fletcher of Saltoun Award for Contribution to Public Life.

Jason Leitch, the Scottish Government’s national clinical director who appears regularly on TV and radio explaining coronavirus developments, and Devi Sridhar, professor of global public health at Edinburgh University and an influential commentator on the crisis, are among other recipients of the awards, run by the Saltire Society.

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After Weir was diagnosed with MND four years ago he set up the My Name’s Doddie Foundation to raise funds for research into potential cures and to give grants to individual sufferers to live life to the full. The foundation works in partnership with MND Scotland and the Motor Neuron Disease Association and provides millions of pounds to research the disease, as well as supporting other charities to assist people living with MND with housing adaptations and respite.

Sarah Mason, director of the Saltire Society, said: “We are pleased to be celebrating the work of Doddie Weir through our 2020 Fletcher of Saltoun Awards. Doddie’s drive to help other sufferers has seen the My Name’s Doddie Foundation grow exponentially, having raised over £1 million in its first year, and we know that with Doddie’s indominable spirit the foundation will continue to go from strength to strength and help people living with MND for many years to come.“2020 has been a difficult year for many but knowing that people like Doddie Weir are here, working hard to make Scotland that little bit better raises our spirits.”

Weir said he was excited to receive his award. He said: “It is the first time I’ve had my tartan jacket on since March. I would like to thank the members and the council of the Saltire Society for nominating and awarding me the Fletcher of Saltoun Award this year for Contribution to Public Life. It is a great honour and privilege to be considered for this Award and I am so grateful for your support.”

Professor Leitch, who has worked for the Scottish Government since 2007, qualified as a dentist in 1991 and was as a consultant oral surgeon in Glasgow before spending a year as a fellow at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement in Boston, USA, sponsored by the Health Foundation. He is also a trustee of the UK wing of the Indian Rural Evangelical Fellowship which runs orphanages in southeast India.

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Professor Sridhar, who was promoted to her full professorship in 2014 at the age of 30, works between Edinburgh Medical School and the Blavatnik School of Government in Oxford. Her research considers the effectiveness of public health interventions.

The other 2020 Fletcher of Saltoun award winners named today are radio broadcaster, activist and journalist Lesley Riddoch; Edinburgh University Gaelic professor Wilson McLeod; and Aberdeen-based Welsh composer Paul Mealor.

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