Former NUSU AU Officer set to take part in 500 mile charity cycle

The cycle will raise money to battle Motor Neuron Disease

Jack Evans
12th March 2024
Image Credit: Fergus Mainland
The first week of March will see bike teams from across Europe cycle to Rome for Scotland’s Six Nations match against Italy, all to raise money for motor neuron disease (MND).  

One such rider will be Fergus Mainland, an ex-student and athletics officer at Newcastle University. He took the time this week to tell us about the charity ride. 

“We’re doing it to raise money for the My Name’5 Doddie foundation,” he told us. “It was set up by former Scottish Rugby player Doddie Weir”. 

“Doddie Weir was diagnosed with MND in 2017, and rather than accepting it he helped raise millions for MND”.  

MND currently has no cure and is a disease that has had many groups, including the rugby community, raise large amounts of money in hope of finding a cure.  

“It’s also something the whole rugby community has got behind, with people such as Doddie and also people like Rob Burrow”.  

“What Doddie’s been able to do is inspire anyone involved with rugby across the UK to get involved with it”. 

Doddie Aid was set up by the foundation and fellow former Scottish rugby player Rob Wainwright, to run across the month of January each year, and is a mass participation event that encourages people to exercise throughout the month to raise funds for the foundation.  

“Doddie Aid is a big fundraiser, and bike rides as well have become one of the real staples of the foundations to help raise money”, Fergus told us.  

Doddie Aid was the start of these bike rides, with both virtual ones and real-life ones. Some of the bike rides started by Rob Wainwright included rides from Twickenham in London to Murrayfield in Edinburgh and Murrayfield to Cardiff ahead of Six Nations matches.  

However, this year sees the bike rides turn to central Europe. “The foundation has come up with the concept that all roads lead to Rome,” said Fergus. “Rob’s feeling was for this to be the next step for the foundation”. 

There will be cycling teams from across the UK and Europe descending on Rome ahead of Scotland’s Six Nations tie with Italy. 

“The team I’m joining up with is riding 500 miles from Nice in France to Rome,” Fergus told us. “We fly out to Nice on March 1st, then cycle for seven days through places like Monaco and Genoa and then down to Rome itself”. 

“There’s also the idea that all the teams will meet up at Piazza Navona in Rome, for a beer on the final day at four o’clock.”  There should be around 20-25 teams from across Europe descending on Italy which is pretty awesome”. 

The teams will ride wearing Doddie’s own tartan, a vibrant mix of yellow and blue which is the symbol of the foundation. “It’s quite striking,” Fergus told us, “So when everyone arrives in Rome in their Doddie tartan jerseys it should be quite a sight”. 

There is a way that you can get involved as well, even if you don’t want to go cycling. “There’s always stuff on during the year, so the best way to do it is to go to the foundation’s website and get stuck in”. 

“The best part is you don’t even have to get active to contribute, if you wanted to buy a bottle of alcohol or even a dog lead, they’ve got all sorts of products with Doddie’s tartan on them”. 

If you want to visit the Doddie Weir Foundations’ website and potentially help to find a cure for MND, you can find it at: https://www.myname5doddie.co.uk/  

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