On Monday 2 April, Edinburgh University Rugby Football Club (EURFC) Club President James Carson handed over a cheque for £4,000 to Finlay Calder OBE, a trustee of the My Name’5 Doddie foundation.
The money given to the trust has been raised by University of Edinburgh students who have been part of the men’s rugby club over the past year, which is an exceptionally impressive feat for the university students.
Doddie Weir is an ex-professional Scottish rugby player and British and Irish Lion who revealed in 2017 that he suffers from the debilitating motor neurone disease (MND).
Weir had an impressive career that spanned over almost two decades, picking up 61 caps for Scotland, winning six Scottish Championships with Melrose RFC and an English Championship with the Newcastle Falcons in the 1997-98 season.
As an imposing lock forward and lineout specialist, Weir was rewarded for his success at club and international level with a spot on the Lions tour to South Africa in 1997, where he unfortunately suffered a tour-ending knee injury before the test matches.
After revealing that he suffered from motor neurone disease via Twitter to promote Global MND Awareness Day, Weir revealed plans to set up the My Name’5 Doddie foundation.
The original aim of the foundation, initially a trust established in 2017, was to raise money to support Doddie and his family as they faced such a great challenge. The foundation website states that Doddie’s aim has now shifted to helping others with their battle against MND.
On the website, Doddie states that, “It is frustrating that there has been so little progress (in MND research) over the last two decades” and that “we may be too late in finding something that can help me, but I am committed to doing everything I can to find a cure”.
The value of the trust to the MND community is clearly immense, as Doddie and his trustees work exceptionally hard to raise money.
EURFC is proud to have been able to contribute to the trust, as the members of the club seek to help the wider community with the charity work that they do.
One of the main fundraising events of the year for the club occurred last month with the alumni dinner, where thousands of pounds were raised at an auction, which have gone towards this donation.
Club President James Carson highlighted the importance of charity work in the rugby club, as he said that, “we have so many members with such diversified interests and it’s incredibly important to use those interests and use our members to the best we can do to give back to the community”.
Carson went on to explain the club’s commitment to the My Name’5 Doddie foundation by stating that many club members were moved by Doddie’s appearance at Murrayfield in November before the Scotland v New Zealand game during the Autumn Internationals.
This is not the first time that the men’s rugby club have made a generous donation to charity; last year they donated to the Matt Hampson Foundation, which aids those who have suffered life changing injuries from sport.
The club was also honoured to have Finlay Calder OBE, an ex-British and Irish Lions winning captain, accept the cheque on Doddie’s behalf whilst Doddie is fundraising at the international 7s tournament in Hong Kong.
Finlay was equally full of praise for the “fantastic” work that the club has done.
He also spoke of how “Doddie has galvanised so many people all over the world and what we’re doing is helping other sufferers”. Finlay also shared stories of how the foundation has aided other sufferers in ways such as buying wheelchairs and sending families on holiday to make their lives more comfortable.
The foundation mattered to Calder, and he expressed hope that in the near future the foundation would truly be able to look into finding a cure for motor neurone disease.
The handing over of the cheque was a touching moment, as the foundation clearly means a lot to everyone associated with EURFC and Doddie Weir.
The men’s rugby club here at Edinburgh have provided an invaluable example of how the university and its students can reach out to others in the wider community and play their part in important charity work.
This has set a precedent, and all of those involved in the club will work to continue to act in the community and give generously to those in need.
Image: Andrew Perry