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Doddie Weir receives OBE for services to rugby, MND research and community

Doddie Weir receives OBE for services to rugby, MND research and community

Inspirational former British & Irish Lion Doddie Weir described receiving his OBE from the Queen as a “great honour” after donning his signature tartan suit for the occasion.

The legendary Scotland lock, who was a tourist to South Africa in 1997, was honoured for services to rugby, motor neurone disease (MND) research and the Borders community.

Weir revealed he had MND in 2017 and subsequently set up the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation to raise funds for research and to provide grants to help those affected by the disease.

A Scottish sporting hero, who won 61 caps for his country, the 48-year-old has been driven to help fellow MND sufferers and has significantly increased awareness about the incurable disease.

He received his OBE at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, dressed in one of his distinctive multi-coloured tartan suits, and described it as a “beautiful day”.

“It’s been amazing but I have to admit that I’ve got to thank so many hundreds of thousands of people who have helped me on the journey to try and find a cure for MND,” he said.

“If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be here, so thanks to them and thanks to my family.”

The ceremony took place during Holyrood Week, recognising Scots who have made a significant contribution to society, and Weir was joined by his wife Kathy and their three sons.

Since being launched in in 2017, the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation has already given £350,000 to two leading charities, MND Association and MND Scotland.

The money has helped people living with MND adapt their homes and also fund respite activities for carers, while the foundation has also provided individual grants for people with the condition.

Before his diagnosis, Weir was already well-loved by Sottish rugby fans for his distinctive, direct style of playing the game during a career that saw him also play for Melrose and Newcastle.

His pride at being selected for the Lions in 1997 for the tour of South Africa was evident from his autobiography, admitting it was a “great feeling” to get the call from Ian McGeechan.

“I bet there isn’t a player selected for a Lions tour who hasn’t puffed his chest out, or drawn himself up to his full height, or smiled quietly to himself, when that letter was delivered,” he said.

“It is just such a great feeling. When I was summoned in 1997 for the Tour of South Africa, not only was it my passport to go on that Tour, it was my membership to a very special club which will never leave me. And they have never left me.”

He also revealed his admiration for the Scottish coaching duo of McGeechan and Jim Telfer, crediting the pair for the Lions becoming only the third touring side to win a Test series in South Africa.

“What was not in question was that the success of the Lions on that Tour owed much to the relationship between Ian McGeechan, the diplomat and slightly quieter, more measured assassin, and Telfer, the occasionally less diplomatic general,” he said.

“In some ways, they were conformists, as in making sure the simple things were done correctly. But both of them had an eye for individualism, that off-the-cuff play someone would pull out the bag.
“And that entire Tour was full of moments of genius: Matt Dawson throwing the dummy overhead that sent the entire Cape the wrong way; Jeremy Guscott deciding ‘now is a good time to try a drop goal’ in the Second Test; John Bentley becoming a Ferrari whenever he was given 10 yards to run into.

“But McGeechan was superb in his ability to pick up on smaller details.”

Unfortunately for Weir, his Tour was ended before the Tests started after suffering a horrific knee injury as a result of foul play while playing against Mpumalanga Province.

The moment he was told his Tour was over is documented in a famous scene from Living with Lions, where he responds: “Ah well. We’ve had a good old time of it, eh?”

“The biggest sadness for me was that I was leaving behind a great bunch of boys, on a trip where I had loved every minute of the experience,” he said in his autobiography.

“Staying and playing, maybe making a Test team, would have been fantastic.”

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