A firefighter from Hawick took on one the UK’s toughest cycling challenges at the weekend as a tribute to the battling spirit of Borders rugby legend Doddie Weir.
Garry Douglas, a watch manager at Galashiels fire station, is also director of rugby at Hawick Rugby Club and a pal of Peter Winterbottom, the ex-England rugby player.
That meant he was only too happy to accept the West Yorkshire-born 58-year-old’s invitation to take part in the NW 250, a three-day cycling challenge from Inverness to the west coast of Scotland covering 250 miles and including more than 15,000ft of uphill riding.
A test of cycling ability, endurance and character, it was being attempted to raise funds for the charity Doddie formed following his diagnosis with incurable motor neurone disease in 2016.
The event brought together 26 competitors, including former British and Irish Lions and sports injury professionals, and their efforts have already raised almost £10,000 for the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation.
It proved a memorable and gruelling three days for Garry, 37, of Paterson Gardens in Hawick, and he said: “It was fantastic.
“There was a whole bunch of people there from different backgrounds, including five British Lions, among them Roger Uttley and Roger Baird.
“The first day, we left from Inverness at the Highland Rugby Club and went up to Gairloch. From Gairloch, we went across to Applecross over the infamous Bealach na Ba, the steepest climb in the UK. It just stated pouring with rain that day.
“We went across to Applecross and went along to the pub, and we did an auction where we auctioned off T-shirts and got the Lions to sing for some of the people in the pub, which was fantastic. It was a great atmosphere.
“The next morning we set off back to Inverness, a 95-mile cycle back. Over the three days, we covered 250 miles but the last day was the wettest conditions I have ever cycled in, and some of the older ones were forced to pull up because of the weather they were getting that wet.
“Roger Uttley was in the leading group at the end. For a man of 69, that’s quite an achievement.
“As it stands at the moment, we have raised more than £9,500, and that’s still rising.
“It is a great part of the world, and it’s an opportunity I’m glad I didn’t turn down.
“It’s something quite close to your heart. To see Doddie with his young family, it brings a tear to your eye, so it’s great to be able to contribute towards his legacy and help find a cure.”
To contribute, go to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Garry-Douglas