Doddie Weir has spent the last couple of months shielding with his family on the farm in the Borders, but the inspirational former Scotland lock has taken the positives out of the situation.
Weir, who was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND) in 2016 and made his diagnosis public the following summer, has been at home with wife Kathy and sons Hamish, Angus and Ben since restrictions came into place in March.
And while it put a stop to Doddie’s usually hectic schedule of appearances and dinners, the 61-times capped Scotland internationalist has enjoyed spending time at home with his family.
Speaking on the most recent My Name’5 Doddie Foundation Dodcast, hosted by foundation CEO Jill Douglas, Doddie said: “This lockdown I’ve quite enjoyed because it’s allowed me to spend time with the family.
“It’s been quite good to re-charge the batteries.
“There’s no doubt about it, I’m fighting MND a bit more than I was a year ago. We’re fighting it hard, but the farm has been unbelievable. It’s allowed me to get out for a bit of fresh air, with friends and family, and we’ve got an outside gym that I use once or twice a week.
“I still think I’m doing quite well – I’m still getting up and down the stairs unaided and enjoying a wee bit drink at night.”
His wife Kathy is similarly delighted to be able to spend time with Doddie, whose rugby career saw him win Scottish titles with Melrose, the English Premiership with Newcastle Falcons and tour with the British and Irish Lions.
And while their eldest son Hamish admitted he’s keen to get out and about more, he knows that is not really possible with the current restrictions, and also spoke about how his lives – and those of brothers Ben and Angus – have changed since their dad’s MND diagonsis.
“We don’t take anything all that seriously,” he said.
“We have a laugh and joke about things and that’s the most important thing.”
And Doddie said that keeping positive has helped him deal with the MND diagnosis.
“ALthough it’s a serious issue, you’ve got to have a smile,” he said.
“You’ve got to have a bit of fun in life and you’ve got to get away from the MND and at the moment with the friends and family, we’re certainly trying to do that, and it’s making a big difference to me staying here.”
‘Glimmer of hope’ of finding a MND cure
Weir is also optimistic about finding a cure for the disease – the foundation has raised more than £5 million for Motor Neurone Disease research since its inception.
“I think there is a definite bit of hope there, especially this year.
“Unfortunately the virus [COVID-19} coming along has put a dent into the trials and research, but there’s a lot of hard work going on behind the scenes.
“There is a glimmer of hope.”
Image caption: Doddie Weir with his three children before the inaugural Doddie Weir Cup match in Wales in November 2018. Image credit: Fotosport/David Gibson