Former Scotland international Doddie Weir has emerged from the lockdown in the UK with a new Dodcast podcast message – he is hopeful that MND-Smart, a new generation of clinical trial in which multiple treatments are evaluated simultaneously, can prove to be a game-changer in treating the disease. 

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The 1997 British and Irish Lion has been raising awareness of motor neurone disease through the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation, founded after his own diagnosis in 2017, and he now believes there are some grounds for optimism with the trial about to start. 

“There is a definite bit of hope there, especially this year,” said ex-Scotland forward Weir on the latest episode of The Dodcast (click here to listen), the Jill Douglas-hosted podcast charting how the soon-to-be 50-year-old former Test lock is living with MND.

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RugbyPass revisits the iconic 1997 Lions vs South Africa first Test in the company of Doddie Weir’s fellow tourist, Lawrence Dallaglio

“I’m positive. The virus has put a wee dent into the trials and research, but behind the scenes what is going on is a lot of hard work. 

“In saying that there is still a lot of questions on the frontline through the foundation. We have received quite a number of emails coming from patients who have been newly diagnosed and don’t get a lot of help.

“That is an area where these future podcasts are going to help people understand that there is a lot of things out there and we can answer a number of the questions because I know my frustrations along the journey and I have got the most amazing team behind me to answer some of these questions.

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“People who don’t have that it must be really difficult for them, especially in lockdown, so these future podcasts are going to be vital to people who would like some answers. 

“Definitely there is a glimmer of hope and as soon as this lockdown is finished we have the trials which are the first in the UK for over 30 years which is very encouraging and very exciting.”

Closeted away on the family farm near Fountainhall, Galashiels, Weir has described the recent lockdown period due to the coronavirus pandemic as enjoyable as it has made for quality family time.

I have quite enjoyed being on the farm this lockdown because it has allowed me to spend time with the family, which I haven’t done too much of before because we have been doing a lot of (fund-raising) dinners, so in that way it has been quite good. 

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“There is no doubt about it that I’m finding MND a bit more than I was a year ago, but we are fighting it hard. But the farm has been unbelievable. I have thoroughly enjoyed it. 

“It has allowed me to get out for a bit of fresh air. We have got an outside gym that I use once or twice a week, and the pod we got attached to the house a year ago has been fantastic, allowing me to shower and it has got the kind of Tokyo toilet has been a great invention for me to be independent. When you take all that in context I think I’m doing quite well.”

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