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Friday, September 01, 2017

Doddie Weir speaks for the first time since MND diagnosis

Former Scotland internationalist Doddie Weir spoke for the first time this week about being diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in a poignant interview with BBC Scotland.

The lock forward was born in Edinburgh but grew up in the Border town of Melrose, where he played most of his club rugby before heading south to play for Newcastle.

Since the end of his playing days, Weir has been an omnipresent figure in public speaking events and television punditry and won many a friend across the world for his flamboyant - and now trademark - tartan suit, which he proudly paraded wherever he went.

The ex-British and Irish Lion, who won 61 caps for his country and played a pivotal part in his side's run to the quarter finals in the 1995 World Cup, was diagnosed with MND in June.

Upon his recent announcement, Weir said: ''Over the past few months, a number of friends and family have raised concerns surrounding my health. I think then, that on the day set to help raise awareness of the condition, I should confirm that I too have Motor Neuron Disease.

"I should like to take this opportunity to thank the National Health Service in recognising then diagnosing this, as yet, incurable disease."

This week he spoke with John Beattie, another former Scotland international, in a hugely emotional segment on BBC Scotland. He spoke of his fears for the future in dealing with the as yet, incurable disease, as well as being able to raise his children Hamish, Angus John and Ben.

Speaking to the BBC, Weir said: "Any parent is worried about the future with their kids. I've got three young boys of 16, 15 and 13 - and you always want to grow up with them if you can - and that is the worry."

Earlier this year, former South African Captain Joost van der Westhuizen died from MND after battling the disease for years. With the help of the J9 Foundation, money was raised to help fund research to develop cures for the ailment.

Weir is following this example by creating his own Foundation (My Name'5 Doddie), set up to help raise funds for research and also provide grants to those afflicted by MND.

He said: "Ultimately it's down to funding - it's all down to a bit of money. I think that's what lapsed before because there's not that many people with the condition and the drug companies I think, don't want to be bothered with it."

MND is a generative disease which affects muscles and damages the nerves. A cure is yet to be found and researchers have suggested that repetitive concussions/head injuries - like those sustained in rugby - can increase the chances of developing the disease.

You can donate to the My Name'5 Doddie MND fund here:

credit: bbc scotland

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