Borders farmers staging show of support for rugby legend Doddie Weir

Doddie Weir, left, with parade organiser Ross Montague and the John Deere Model A tractor to be auctioned off at Lauder on Sunday.
Doddie Weir, left, with parade organiser Ross Montague and the John Deere Model A tractor to be auctioned off at Lauder on Sunday.

Farmers throughout the Borders are staging a show of support for disease-stricken rugby legend Doddie Weir this weekend.

More than 100 tractors are expected to be driven through Lauder this coming Sunday, November 5, to help raise money for a charity set up by the former Scottish international following his diagnosis with motor neurone disease (MND).

The parade is being organised by farmers, other tractor drivers and vintage vehicle enthusiasts to raise money for My Name’5 Doddie, a foundation the 47-year-old is setting up to fund research into MND.

Its organisers are encouraging Borderers to turn out to support the parade as it passes along Lauder High Street at around 11.15am and returns to nearby Thirlestane Castle at about 1pm.

One of its organisers, Ross Montague, of Blackburn Farm, Lauder, said: “2017 has been marred by the loss of Peter Fullerton, a retired local farmer to MND.

“We also learned earlier in the summer of the news that another local farmer, Doddie Weir, is suffering from MND.

“The grand parade of tractors is a way for the farming community and local people to show our support for those affected by MND, including their families, and hopefully also to raise funds to help combat this horrific disease.

“I am hugely encouraged by the number of tractors registered to take part, and I am sure there will be more turning up on the day.

“Edward and Sarah Maitland-Carew have been extremely supportive of the event and are very kindly allowing the tractors to meet at Thirlestane Castle, from which they will leave, in parade formation before travelling through Lauder and doing a circuit of the area.

“This promises to be quite a spectacle for the public, so I hope we will see a good crowd on the street as the parade passes through the town.

“There will be tractors from vintage right through to brand new top-of-the-range giants paraded by the local agricultural machinery dealers.

“Afterwards, when the parade returns to Thirlestane Castle and the tractors are all safely parked up, there will be a chance for the public to see them and support our fundraising raffle.

“We were blown away last week by the generosity of a local farmer who has donated a vintage John Deere Model A, which will be auctioned after the parade and hopefully give a great boost to the fundraising.”

The event, being sponsored by rural insurance firm NFU Mutual, will see temporary diversions in place on the A68 from around 10.30am to noon on Sunday and then again around 1pm.

There might also be delays in and around Lauder, Langshaw and Blainslie from 9am until 4pm, with tractors arriving, the parade taking place and then tractors leaving from Thirlestane at the close of the event.

“I would like to thank Police Scotland, Scottish Borders Council and Amey Highways,” added Mr Montague.

“They are all working with us to make sure that we can stage this parade with minimum disruption to the public.

“I would also like to apologise in advance for any delays.

“However, we hope that the public will forgive us as our efforts are all for a very worthwhile cause.”

Father-of-three Weir, of Stow, revealed he had MND in June, and since then the former Melrose and Newcastle Falcons lock, capped 61 times for Scotland, has pledged to raise money for others affected by the disease.