Trio to travel across Europe to raise funds for My Name’5 Doddie Foundation

Three friends including a former Scotland rugby forward who played with Doddie Weir are set to embark on a daunting road trip across Europe to raise thousands of pounds for research into motor neurone disease (MND).

Weir was diagnosed with MND in 2016 and set up the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation to fund research into the rare debilitating condition before his death in 2022 aged 52.

Alan Watt, 56, played rugby with Weir in the 1991 Rugby World Cup and decided to take part in this year’s Rust 2 Rome rally challenge with friends Paul Toon and Murray Watt to raise £25,000 for the foundation.

The challenge involves teams chipping in to buy a car worth no more than £1,000 then driving from Edinburgh to Rome over 12 days, stopping overnight at locations which are only revealed to the teams each morning before they set off.

Mr Toon, 57, a senior consultant engineer from Bridge of Allan, travelled to London to acquire the vehicle he and his friends will drive during the challenge – an old Jaguar the team have emblazoned with the number five in a reference to Weir’s old playing number and the Doddie Foundation.

He said: “The route is challenging – it’s not just a straight line to Rome – but we’ve every confidence it will make the journey.

“This year there are 34 vehicles taking part. We do a showcase in Monaco then we work our way down to Rome where we’re allowed to park at the Colosseum.

“The beauty of it is, we don’t really know where we’re going along the way – we only get the destination on the morning of the day of travel. It adds a bit of mystery to the adventure.

“There’ll be breakdowns and incidents, but hopefully no accidents, and we’ll all get to share our stories around the campfire at the end of each day.”

Doddie Weir
Doddie Weir died in 2022 (Jane Barlow/PA)

Mr Toon said once the team arrives in Rome he expects they will have some pizza and a couple of pints to celebrate their achievement before they face having to travel back to the UK in a fraction of the time it took to get there.

“That’s when the fun starts because Alan’s supposed to be going on holiday with his family and I’ve got a job in Dubai, so we both have to get back home in three days,” he said.

Alan Watt, who also lives in Bridge of Allan, remembers first encountering Doddie Weir when he played for Glasgow High Kelvinside and Weir played for Melrose Rugby Club in the early 1990s.

Mr Watt said: “He was about six foot eight and 14 stone in the early days.

“He could look after himself. He was a superb athlete.”

Weir would go on to win his first cap for Scotland against Argentina in 1990 and rack up 61 international appearances for the national team before retiring from the game in 2004.

Mr Watt said of Weir: “He was a very sociable person. He was always the sort of guy you would gravitate towards.

“He was just a very likeable guy that you wanted to spend time with because he was always good fun.

“And he had the ability to always make everybody in his company feel very special, which is a rare quality.”

The trio have set up a JustGiving page for their fundraiser for the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation and have so far raised more than £3,500.

The Rust 2 Rome rally challenge starts on July 7. Anyone wishing to donate can do so at