Doddie Weir isn’t just a hero to rugby fans all the way from Carter Bar up to John o’Groats. The rugby legend also holds a special place in the hearts of all associated with Lauderdale Scout Group as without the former Scotland international’s help, it might well not exist.
Five years ago, it was struggling to attract both members and adult helpers, with fewer than 20 of the former on its books.
Group scout leader Andy Beaumont turned to Doddie, dad of two of the group’s members at the time, for help, and the 47-year-old was only too happy to oblige and set up a group executive, taking the role of chairman.
The group now has 150 youth members, with 38 adults helping at its daily meetings.
“With his usual charisma and personality, he made things happen,” recalls Andy, also 47.
“More adults and children began to join, and the group quickly established a beaver scout colony for six-to-eight-year-olds.
“The group began to thrive, and in 2013 it was presented with an award for the highest percentage growth in the whole of Scotland.
“Doddie was also responsible for the name change from Lauder to Lauderdale, reflecting the catchment area of the group and bringing in children from Westruther, Fountainhall, Stow, Oxton and Gordon as well as Lauder.
“Next was the scout group’s base. Doddie led the way in purchasing the hall back from the youth trust, securing a home for scouting in Lauderdale for future generations. “Doddie is always first to deny having been responsible for the scout group’s success, but he was definitely a key part of creating the successful group that it is today, providing exciting opportunities for boys and girls from the age of six to 18 in Lauderdale.”
Doddie stood down as chairman in April this year, and a couple of months later he revealed he had been diagnosed with motor neurone disease.
To thank Doddie for the role he played in reviving its fortunes, the group held a sponsored walk through Lauderdale to his farm near Blainslie, drawing a turnout of about 200.
Older scouts walked from Oxton along the old railway to Lauder, where they met the group’s cubs, and they then all walked through Lauder to the Southern Upland Way to meet the younger beavers en route for Blainslie.
“It was a great day enjoyed by all who attended,” said Andy.
It raised more than £3,000 for Doddie Weir’5 Discretionary Trust, and last week group members handed that money over.