Lions legend Weir claims prestigious Helen Rollason award
Doddie Weir received an emotional standing ovation as he took to the stage to claim the prestigious Helen Rollason award at 2019 BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
“I’m not giving in. If you give in what’s the point of living?”
Since his diagnosis with motor neurone disease back in 2016, the former Scotland lock has worked tirelessly to raise both money and awareness for the degenerative condition.
Those efforts have rightly earned him the praise of the entire sporting world, with an OBE in last year’s New Year’s Honours list followed by this year’s SPOTY selection.
But for rugby fans the world over, and Lions fans in particular, the former Scotland lock has long been a firm favourite.
His starring role for the Lions on the 1997 Tour to South Africa, so perfectly immortalised by the Living with the Lions DVD, saw him fly straight into the hearts of all who watched it.
His emerging bromance with John Bentley encapsulated what the touring spirit is all about.
His initial shyness on camera – “Take two, because in part one I had a wee swear…” – soon gave way to ease and charm.
And the front-row seat to the end of his Tour – injured out after the ill-tempered mid-week win over Mpumalanga Province – was heartbreaking for his honesty.
“Will it not just heal over time Doc..?” he asks initially before Dr James Robson brings down the bad news of a medial ligament tear.
thank you for all the kind messages. This is a wonderful accolade and I am extremely grateful to have been nominated, especially when you see the inspirational names who have previously accepted this awardhttps://t.co/PX2iPtVMTJ
— Doddie Weir OBE (@DoddieWeir5) December 14, 2019
“Ah well it’s been a good old time hasn’t it?” he manages as the tears begin to well in his eyes.
He has been breaking our hearts and worming his way into them for a long time now.
And his strength since retirement – his 61st and final Scotland cap came back in 2000 while his final game for the Borders was four years after that – have only strengthened his standing.
Diagnosed in 2016, Weir did not go public with it until June 2017 – on world MND day.
That was an earlier indicator of the way he wanted to combat his condition – and he hasn’t stopped since.
He set up the My Name’5 Doddie foundation to aid research into the disease and improve the lives of those with MND.
In the last two and half years they have raised more than £4million and that number is still rising.
With the help of his family, wife Kathy and sons Hamish, Ben and Angus – who so memorably accompanied their father to deliver the match ball onto the pitch for Scotland’s 2018 autumn clash with the All Blacks – the fight continues.
— John Beattie (@BBCJohnBeattie) December 7, 2019
And Weir is not going anywhere any time soon – not least because next summer he turns 50 and there is a big party planned.
“I’m not giving in. If you give in what’s the point of living? To me, the kids have still got a lot to do, and I’d like to support them,” he told the BBC earlier this year.
“If you give in, I think the whole body gives in. That’ll be the end and I don’t want that to happen.”
Tonight the BBC have recognised his brilliance, but us Lions fans have known it for years.
“I am honoured and humbled to receive the Helen Rollason award at this year’s Sports Personality of the Year, especially when I look back at the remarkable individuals who have been recognised over the years,” Weir added.
This year’s Helen Rollason award goes to a man who has shown immense bravery and incredible heart in adversity.
This is @DoddieWeir5 story…
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) December 15, 2019
“My family and I are very much looking forward to attending the awards evening and celebrating another fantastic sporting year with friends and many of our sporting heroes.”
“Doddie is an incredible recipient of this year’s Helen Rollason award,” said director of BBC Sport Barbara Slater.
“To come to terms with his own life-changing diagnosis and channel his energy into raising over four million pounds to research the condition and a possible cure is nothing short of extraordinary.”