THE CEO of the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation says she was encouraged by the cross-party support during a debate to increase funding for research into Motor Neurone Disease.

Jill Douglas was reacting to an exchange which took place in Westminster last week.

The debate was triggered by an e-petition launched by the Foundation in conjunction with MND Scotland and the MND Association, which received 110,000 signatures.

Due to local campaigning by rugby legend Doddie Weir, the Borders had the second highest number of signatories on the petition.

And during the speeches, the hard work and dedication displayed by the former Scotland international was highly praised.

The minister for social care, Helen Whately, who responded on behalf of the government, also paid tribute to the campaigning of Doddie and his Foundation.

The charity’s CEO Ms Douglas told this newspaper: “I watched the debate with great interest and it was encouraging to see cross party support.

“Our aim is to see a UK MND Research Institute and we have sent our proposal to Sajid Javid, the secretary of state for health; Kwasi Kwarteng, the business minister and the care minister Helen Whately who acknowledged the need for further research, but said that the only way to proceed was within the existing structure.

“The current system is not delivering for the MND community, and we must find other ways of doing things.

“This is accepted by eminent professors and researchers globally so who are we to argue. She (Ms Whately) has agreed to meet with us after the summer recess which is encouraging.”

During the debate, Borders MP John Lamont (Conservative) was among those to praise the work of the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation.

He told us: “I was proud to see Borderers had come out in force to sign this e-petition on MND, triggering a debate in parliament.

“Borderers are proud of Doddie Weir and what he has achieved on and off the pitch. It is fantastic to see their support. Motor Neurone Disease affects one in 300 people in the UK and is more prevalent than people think.

“Sadly, one in three people die within a year of receiving their diagnosis.

“I previously raised the issue of funding for MND research with the Prime Minister a few months ago in the Commons. 

“I thought it was important to do so again after such strong support from the Scottish Borders for this cause.

“It is great that the UK invests so heavily in research into this devastating disease, but we must redouble our efforts to consolidate the work that has been done.”