Your legacy will be that we find a cure for MND – Doddie Weir’s ex-teammate

One of Doddie Weir’s former Scottish teammates has pledged to cement his legacy by ending his campaign for a cure for motor neuron disease at an emotional memorial service.

John Jeffrey, trustee of the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation, hailed the charity fundraiser and the activist’s “stubborn, determined and bloodthirsty” drive to force more research into MND, which cost him his life last month in the age of 52.

Weir fought a six-year battle with the disease, but never wavered in his quest to help others who were ill. His foundation has raised a 10-figure sum, has already committed £8m to research projects and uses much of its £4m annual income to provide support for people living with MND and their families. families.

Around 450 guests attended Melrose Parish Church, which overlooks the Borders town rugby club, where Weir won six Scottish titles in the 1990s and won the first of 61 Scottish caps when he was a 20 year old farmer.

John Jeffrey (left) at Melrose Parish Church (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Jeffrey explained the background to the formation of Weir’s charity, when the 6ft 6in former forward refused to accept proceeds from a second testimonial dinner scheduled to benefit him.

The Scottish Rugby Union chairman added: “He was a real pest both on the pitch when you played him, probably more so when you played with him, and especially off the pitch.

“The good thing about this nature is that it hasn’t changed, and it’s been an absolute pest for all researchers and scientists trying to find a cure for MND. I don’t think these scientists have ever experienced something like this.

Jeffrey revealed that Weir said at a recent meeting that his colleagues at the foundation are “just trying harder, working harder, and finding a cure for this damn disease.”

Speaking to his friend, Jeffrey added: “Over the past six years, your selfless actions during a prolonged period of extreme adversity have given inspiration and hope to thousands of people in the world and we won’t let you down.

“The words ‘legend’ and ‘legacy’ are widely and inappropriately used these days.”

His voice cracking with emotion, Jeffrey finished, “Doddie, you are a legend and your legacy will be that we find a cure for MND.”

Two other Scottish team-mates also spoke during the service, which was broadcast live on the internet and in front of hundreds of people gathered in the rain at the Greenyards home of Melrose RFC.

Carl Hogg, left, and Gary Armstrong, right

Carl Hogg, left, and Gary Armstrong, right (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Former Melrose player Carl Hogg gave the eulogy, during which he detailed Weir and his close friend Gary Armstrong’s mischievous sense of humor as they won the English Premiership title together at Newcastle in 1998.

“Doddie had an incredible life full of action, fun, adventure and love,” Hogg said.

“It has been very moving to read all the tributes and his campaign for MND. Yet it’s only been six years of an incredible life. As we all know, motor neurone disease has not defined Doddie. This was just the final chapter and challenge he faced.

“He never questioned why, but rather felt a responsibility to make a difference. He felt lucky to have the love and support of his family and friends. He used to say : “And Mrs. Smith in the apartment who is not as lucky as me?”

Rob Wainwright

Rob Wainwright at Melrose Parish Church (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Former Scotland captain Rob Wainwright, whose Doddie Aid mass participation events themselves raised millions of pounds for MND research, spoke about their international days.

Wainwright described Weir as being the center of the fun out of the park, detailing a night when his friend drove down the team bus sending shots of whiskey from two bottles with optics under his kilt.

Recalling a meeting with former teammates two months ago, he added: “My final image is of a body shrunken by its condition but with character intact and the radiance of its smile and her warmth still shines in her eyes.”

Doddie Weir Memorial

Doddie Weir’s wife Kathy and their sons Hamish (left), Angus (centre) and Ben leaving Melrose Parish Church (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Weir’s three sons, Hamish, Angus and Ben, read a poem written by Timmy Douglas called Requiem for Doddie (The Mad Giraffe), a reference to a memorable comment by Bill McLaren.

Weir’s wife, Kathy, later expressed gratitude for the reaction to his death.

In a statement, she said: “We would like to thank everyone who has given us such incredible support over the past two weeks.

“As a family, we have been overwhelmed by the many messages we have received from around the world. They brought great comfort to me and the boys.

“We really appreciate people taking the time to share their own memories of Doddie and letting us know that we are on their minds.”

Gregor Townsend

Gregor Townsend at Melrose Parish Church (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Participants included Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend and his predecessors Sir Ian McGeechan and Frank Hadden.

A host of former Scottish players were in attendance, including brothers Scott and Gavin Hastings, Kenny Logan, Kelly Brown, Chris Paterson, Armstrong, John Barclay, as well as current internationals Jamie Ritchie and Hamish Watson.

Former England internationals included Martin Johnson, Rob Andrew, Austin Healey and World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont.

Olympic gold medalist cyclist Sir Chris Hoy was also present.

Attendees were asked to wear a tartan in tribute to Weir, who helped design his own design for his charity. A range of colors were on display with mourners wearing scarves, shawls, trousers, kilts and tartan suits.

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