SCOTTISH rugby hero Scott Hastings has spoken about the devastating effect of motor neurone disease on his friends and family ahead of Motor Neurone Disease Scotland’s second annual fun run in the Capital.
The former Scottish record cap holder, who is patron of the charity, is looking to inspire people to sign up, support and take part in the 5km run around Holyrood Park on Sunday, September 9.
The former British Lions and Edinburgh centre said that, after losing both his mother-in-law and a close friend to the disease, he wanted to do as much as possible to help raise awareness and support. Scott was first aware of the charity through his friend, Forrester Rugby Club president and coach Jim Robertson.
Mr Robertson, who also served on the Edinburgh Rugby Committee, passed away as a result of the illness in 1999.
However, in a cruel twist of fate for Scott, mother-in-law Nancy Owens was then diagnosed with the disease in 2002.
The charity worker and teacher eventually died of a heart attack following a fall at the age of 70.
The activist, who campaigned for more than 40 years to improve play for young people across Scotland, was awarded an MBE for her work in the voluntary services sector, and a trust has since been set up in her name.
Scott, 48, from Inverleith, said: “Jim was the one who got me involved with the charity back in my playing days with Edinburgh and Scotland.
“He was a great guy who did a lot for both the charity and rugby in Edinburgh. A number of years later my mother-in-law also contracted the disease, which came as a terrible shock.
“As a family, we knew the difficulties we were going to have to overcome. Gradually Nancy started losing her ability to walk great distances and the independent life that she led was taken away from her.” He added: “Motor neurone disease is a crippling illness and as a result I have spent the last number of years campaigning for the charity.
“Numbers are down for this year’s fun run, but I think this is more as a result of the Olympics than lack of interest.
“I’m hoping that now the Games are over people will be inspired to do something sporty and take part. It’s only 5km around one of the city’s best attractions and the money raised goes to a really worthy cause.”
Last year’s inaugural event saw 175 runners take part, raising more than £25,000 in the process. However, so far this year’s numbers are just half that.
To take part in the run, or for information about motor neurone disease, call 0141-945 1077 or visit www.mnd scotland.org.uk.