Former Scotland rugby international Doddie Weir has been praised as an “absolute inspiration” to people with motor neurone disease (MND) following his revelation that he is battling the condition himself.
The 47-year-old announced his diagnosis in June to raise awareness of the degenerative condition, pledging to devote his time to helping with research and supporting fellow sufferers.
It’s mark of the quality of the man that he’s saying he will go out and help othersScott Hastings
Weir teamed up with his friend and fellow Scotland rugby giant Scott Hastings in Edinburgh yesterday to promote a forthcoming fun run and sponsored walk to raise money for the charity MND Scotland – an event both men will participate in.
Former Scotland centre Hastings, an MND Scotland patron, said: “People like Doddie have an amazing ability, when they get told about this devastating news that they have MND, the first thing they do is they want to help other people.
“That’s a real mark of the quality of the man that he’s saying he will go out and help other sufferers, help MND Scotland and also help the Euan MacDonald Centre [a research facility at the University of Edinburgh]. Full credit to him.”
Lawrence Cowan, chair of MND Scotland, said: “Since Doddie’s diagnosis, he has been an absolute inspiration. I know how devastating this disease is. To spend your time committed to helping others with this condition and also making sure that we raise as much money as possible to beat this disease is really incredible.”
Edinburgh-born Weir won 61 caps for Scotland and was part of the squad which won the 1999 Five Nations title.
The 6ft 6in forward was also called up for the British and Irish Lions’ 1997 tour of South Africa.
Hastings lost his mother-in-law to the condition a number of years ago and also knew South Africa’s Rugby World Cup winner Joost van der Westhuizen, who visited Scotland and the Euan MacDonald Centre in 2013.
Van der Westhuizen died in February after losing his fight with MND.
Hastings said it is important people get involved in the charity fun run to help keep the research work going to beat the disease.
The 5k event, now in its fifth year, will take place at Holyrood Park in Edinburgh at 10am on Sunday August 27.
“It’s a fun run and that’s the beauty,” said Hastings. “You can pitch up on the day, it’s one loop of Arthur’s Seat in Holyrood Park. You can walk it, you can cycle it, you can bring the dog, bring the pushchair.
“It’s great because when you see the MND community come together – that’s families and some people with MND – they come out here and run and walk and have some great fun coming round Holyrood Park. And the greatest thing of all? There’s a cake and candy stand at the end.”
Mr Cowan said it was fantastic to have the support of Weir and Hastings.