IN celebration of what would have been Doddie Weir's 54th birthday, his charity has announced a major funding boost for clinical trials into MND (motor neurone disease).

The My Name'5 Doddie Foundation (MNDF) announced today (Thursday, July 4) that it will invest more than £500,000 in clinical trials to help in the search for effective treatments, and eventually a cure, for MND.

This new funding boost will be allocated through MNDF's Clinical Research Infrastructure Awards which is part of the charity's Catalysing a Cure research strategy.

Jessica Lee, director of research at My Name’5 Doddie Foundation, said: “When Doddie was diagnosed in 2016, there were few MND clinical trials running in the UK.

"Since then, there has been significant progress and an increased investment into UK MND trials. It means today, the landscape is very different with there are many clinical trials running nationwide. 

“However, despite the increasing number of trials, not all centres are currently able to deliver them at pace due to a lack of specialised staff with dedicated time to spend on MND projects.

“Doddie was passionate about the need for more MND clinical trials, to give newly diagnosed people hope and purpose, and to accelerate the search for effective treatments.

"This commitment of an additional £500,000 to support individual trial centres, will enable them to buy-out the time of specialised staff to work on MND clinical trials, and make a real difference in our ongoing mission to end MND.” 

The funding will support multiple research centres around the UK to deliver MND trials.

MNDF has invested more than £3 million in UK trial centres to aid in the recruitment of staff to deliver MND trials, and has supported the delivery of MND-SMART and TRICALS studies.

The foundation's support has also enabled trial delivery in Newcastle.Dr Tim Williams, consultant neurologist at the Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The support we have received in Newcastle has been absolutely fundamental to a sea change in MND trial conduct and activity in Newcastle.

"It's been a great thing and I only hope such support continues and might reasonably be rolled out elsewhere. I think this is a highly effective and tangible use of funds.”
Doddie was diagnosed with MND in 2016 at a time when he felt there was a "chronic lack of clinical trials" into the disease.

The father of three passed away in 2022.

In honour of his 54th birthday and the funding announcement, and to raise awareness of MND, Doddie's wife Kathy and two of his sons, Ben and Hamish, donned their best tartan to launch the new initiative.

As part of the celebrations, Doddie fans and MNDF supporters are invited to share photos of themselves in the rugby hero's famous yellow and blue tartan for the chance to win a range of prizes, including a bottle of Doddie'5 Moonshine, Cap Classique sparkling wine, Doddie merch, and a rugby ball.

To enter the competition, upload your image to social media and use the hashtag #myname5doddie.

Alternatively, post your pictures as comments on MNDF's Facebook and X (formerly Twitter) posts.