After raising millions for MND research since his Motor Neuron Disease (MND) diagnosis in 2016, ex-rugby star Doddie Weir has raised millions for MND research. Now, in his new book, Doddie explores the highs, lows and the laughter from his fight with the disease.
Since he was diagnosed with MND five years ago, Doddie Weir has lived life at full tilt, raising nearly £10million for MND research through his charity, My Name’5 Doddie Foundation. With the release of Doddie’s Diary: The Highs, the Lows and the Laughter from My Fight with MND, Doddie is giving an insight into what life has been like. Released today (12 October), the book is a testament to Doddie’s refusal to give in, living life with positivity and an infectious sense of humour.
We caught up with Doddie about the behind the scenes story of what this time has been like.
Could you tell me a bit about your decision to release your latest book, Doddie’s Diary?
I did my autobiography in 2018 (still available online and in all good book shops) and thought that was me, I’ve done the documentary and the book, I’ll just wear the t-shirt now. Then along came a second book, my A-Z Of Life And How To Live It, which was a bit of fun and I had no intention of writing anything else. What became apparent on this journey, was that in the last three years so much more has happened in my life.
I wasn’t keen, but was eventually convinced that there were people wanting to know how I was getting on, and for a great many, looking for guidance having found themselves in a similar situation. Hence why the diary came around. While I’ve got a decent memory, there was so much happening that thankfully, Stewart (Weir, and thankfully no relation) had been noting the highs and lows, and I just had to join up the dots.
What was the writing and editing process like with this book?
It was nice reflecting on the various places and people I’d seen, some of the instances being quite funny, boyish even. I think I’ve got away with a few things that people have put down to MND! And then there were some darker moments when certain realities kicked in. They are outweighed by the good times, but they never go away.
Why did you feel it was important to give this personal insight into the last five years?
There is a part of the book where a rather heated exchange between myself and Stewart (who also helped write the other two books) is detailed. The point that was being made was that while I was happy with my lot, and was just going to get on with things, others needed something – or someone – to champion their fight, or to give them a bit of a steer in terms of where their life was headed. Once I’d got hold of that idea, then it all fell into place. This isn’t a guide on how to live with MND, more a guide on how to have MND and live.
How do you hope the book raises awareness of MND and the need for research with not only the MND community, but the wider public?
MND was once not talked about. You can’t say that now. More action – especially in terms of the funding required to research this disease and possible cures – needs to be forthcoming. This book is another piece of the jigsaw so to speak, and hopefully a spotlight on what MND sufferers face and feel.
That others have gone public with their diagnosis had brought our plight to a much greater audience. All we can hope for is that those in government buy in to our vision and our battle. What I would say is that where before you might be ignored, it is not that easy today because there are hundreds carrying on our fight for change.
If people could take one thing from reading the book, what would it be?
That it makes an extraordinarily good Christmas present, and one you’d want to keep, rather than share – so you really must buy more! I think it is about doing what you can today rather than putting it off until another time. That could be a useful mantra for life in general, not just because you have MND. But the more advanced this disease becomes, the more chance there is that someday, tomorrow, you might not be able to do the simplest of things. And, that means it’s gone, forever.
Can you give Enable readers any insight into the stories included within the book?
Yes. You’ll quickly realise how wonderful the rugby family is, and, how fantastic it has been to be part of teams, clubs, tour, and everlasting friendships. Two, never come second-best to a chiropractors table. Painful memories. Also only mix with famous people because they are usually very generous particularly when you are at the bar! Joking apart, people are generous with their time, and their hard-earned money. It is why the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation has been such a success and hopefully will continue to be. Hopefully that story, that mission, will inspire others.
How are you feeling ahead of the book’s release today (12 October)?
Slightly apprehensive. I’ve never been the nervous type. But I still run through in my head if I’ve not mentioned something grand, or forgotten someone who has helped along the way. Sorry in advance, but others are probably to blame. I have a long list of them!
Do you have any plans to write a fourth book?
Will there be a fourth book? The answer to that is no. Although as James Bond once said, never say never.
Doddie’s latest book, Doddie’s Diary, is available to purchase now online and in all good book stores.