Doddie Weir would have been so proud of raising £5m, says ex-Scotland captain

Former rugby star Rob Wainwright has said his friend Doddie Weir would have been “immensely proud” after £5 million was raised to research motor neurone disease (MND).

Weir was diagnosed with MND in 2016 and set up the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation, to fund research into the debilitating condition, before his death in 2022.

Wainwright, a former Scotland teammate, set up Doddie Aid in 2021 to organise mass participation events to raise money for the foundation.

Doddie’s foundation has been backed by famous names including Sir Chris Hoy, Lewis Capaldi, Lorraine Kelly and Ewan McGregor.

Rob Wainwright organised the All Roads Lead To Rome challenge to raise money (Craig Watson/PA)

More than 100,000 fundraisers recorded their miles running, cycling, swimming, walking, and more to help fund research.

Doddie Aid 2024 raised £1.4 million, including more than £700,000 from the All Roads Lead To Rome cycle from Scotland to Rome which culminated in fans, many wearing Doddie tartan, marching to the Stadio Olimpico for the Italy vs Scotland Six Nations Clash.

The event was attended by Weir’s widow Kathy and one of his three sons, Ben.

Wainwright, who won 37 caps for Scotland and also represented the British and Irish Lions, said: “When we founded Doddie Aid, we wanted to create a fun community event that allowed everyone to give a little bit to Doddie’s cause.

Kathy and Ben
Doddie Weir’s widow, Kathy, with his son Ben in Rome (Craig Watson/PA)

“Doddie meant so much to so many people – inside rugby and out – and, by launching the foundation to find solutions to MND, he offers hope to everybody living with this devastating disease.

“Doddie would be immensely proud. To reach £5 million – of course symbolic as Doddie’s famous number – is a massive milestone in our mission to end MND, but there’s a long way to go.

“Milestones aren’t why we started, but they’re a big motivation as we relentlessly pursue the finish – a world free of MND.

“Thanks to everybody who’s backed us, and let’s keep going for Doddie, and for all living with or affected by MND.”

My Name’5 Doddie Foundation recently announced a further commitment to invest up to £6 million in research, including £4 million to set up the Discovery Network to help better understand MND and identify new targets for treatments.

A further £1.75 million will be made available through the foundation’s annual advancing treatments award that supports the next stage of research, turning breakthroughs into potential treatments.

Last year, the foundation invested almost £1.3million in three projects through this scheme while some £250,000 will be made available through the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation’s catalyst award, which enables researchers to bring early-stage promising ideas to life.

Jessica Lee, director of research at the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation, said: “When Doddie established the foundation, he wanted to make a step change and fund the smartest, most efficient research to speed up the development of new treatments.

“Research takes a long time but, by investing in innovative projects and new funding models, we are striving to make faster progress and bring effective treatment options to people living with MND as quickly as possible.

“This funding is only made possible by our committed supporters, to whom we are so thankful.”

Paul Thompson, director of fundraising at the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation, said: “Doddie was instrumental in putting MND centre stage.

“Our incredible supporters and fundraisers are making sure it stays there. Their generosity, commitment, and determination knows no bounds, and the £5 million raised through Doddie Aid has played a crucial part in our ongoing efforts.

“To be well on our way to committing more than £17 million to research in such a short space of time has the potential to advance the cause massively.

“Everybody who donates and supports the foundation is playing their part in helping to realise Doddie’s legacy – a world free of MND.”