Feature: Doddie Weir and the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation

It is a mark of just how special a person Doddie Weir is that when faced with the most devastating news his reaction was entirely positive.

It is a mark of just how special a person Doddie Weir is that when faced with the most devastating news his reaction was entirely positive.

The legendary Scotland and British & Irish Lions second row announced that he had been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in 2017 and has since helped set up the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation to raise funds for research into a cure for MND and to provide grants to people living with the condition.


The reaction from the rugby community and beyond has been overwhelming, something which came as little surprise for those who know him best.

One of those is ITV broadcaster Jill Douglas, now CEO of the Foundation and one of Doddie’s closest friends.

“I’ve known Doddie since we were kids, he’s godparent to our children, was best man at our wedding and he’s my husband’s best friend,” explained Douglas, whose husband Carl Hogg played alongside Weir for Scotland and now coaches Scotland Under-20s.

“So when we heard of his diagnosis it came as a terrible shock to all of us.

“It took us a few months to process it, I’m not sure if you ever do process such bad news. In the initial time we were just worried about Doddie and how best to support him and his family.

“As time went on, Doddie being Doddie, he felt he wanted to do something to help. He felt he was getting great support but he wanted to make sure other people got support.

“He was also hugely frustrated at the lack of options, there was no clinical trial, there was nothing offered to him so he was very frustrated.

“A group of trusted friends got together and first we looked at helping Doddie and it grew into wanting to start a charity. We had to wait several months to get charity status and in that short time we did some fundraising to help Doddie and his family long-term.

“At the end of October 2017 we got charitable status. We decided to come together and create this foundation to raise funds for research and hasten clinical trials but part of it goes through helping people in a similar position to Doddie. People need adapted houses and all sorts of support.

“It’s unbelievable the way it has gathered pace. It has gone from sitting around Doddie’s kitchen table to sitting in an office in Edinburgh talking to a lawyer to where we are today, which is unbelievable. It’s testament to the regard people have for Doddie.

“I’m not surprised by the way people react to him, I’ve been aware of that my whole life. People love Doddie, that’s just the way he is. But what has surprised me is his completely positive approach to something that is so challenging and the way he has galvanized people to do such extraordinary things. He says that it’s great people are doing this but we also want them to have a bit of fun doing it.”

The Foundation has enjoyed such success that this week they announced they have committed £2.4 million into MND research.

One in 300 people suffer from the disease, so as much as Weir was keen to raise funds for research, it was also an opportunity to raise awareness.

Douglas added: “I think people have been moved by Doddie and inspired by Doddie. It’s fantastic and it’s almost bigger than the fundraising and the medical research. It’s the way he has raised awareness, he’s got people talking about it, people are much more aware of the disease and people who suffer from MND have been in touch with us and they have been moved by him as well.

“He’s touched an awful lot of people because he has been so open and honest about it.”

This weekend will see Scotland play host to Wales in the Guinness Six Nations, playing for the Doddie Weir Cup for the second time.

In November they first played for the trophy in the Autumn Internationals, and on Saturday Weir will be at BT Murrayfield once more for the second meeting.

For Douglas, the decision to honour him in this way goes far beyond the work he is doing now.

“It’s a personal tribute to a great rugby man, not Doddie Weir with MND, it’s in recognition of him as a remarkable individual,” added Douglas, who also revealed the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation would be launching a joint venture with the Matt Hampson Foundation at the end of the year.

“He was a hell of a player, he’s done a lot for rugby over the years and now he has switched his attention to doing something for MND. It’s a great honour for him as an individual.

“At the very start when Scottish Rugby and Welsh Rugby said they wanted to play for the Doddie Weir Cup in November, we were blown away.

“He’s completely humbled by it all and a little overwhelmed by the attention. When it was first mooted last year, he was hugely honoured at being given this opportunity.

“When I spoke to him last week and said they would play for it again at BT Murrayfield, he was choked. It’s an amazing thing to see how moved he has been and what it means to him.”