Seeing the big picture helps event raise £300,000 for Borders rugby legend Doddie Weir’s research charity

Rugby legend Doddie Weir and painter Gerard Burns with the portrait. Photo: Veronica Sanchis Bencomo
Rugby legend Doddie Weir and painter Gerard Burns with the portrait. Photo: Veronica Sanchis Bencomo

Being put in the picture has helped Borders rugby legend Doddie Weir raise more than £300,000 for his motor neurone disease research charity.

A near-life-size portrait of the 6ft 6in-tall former Scotland international by Glasgow painter Gerard Burns was auctioned off for almost £100,000 at a fundraising dinner in Hong Kong this week, accounting for nearly a third of the £300,000-plus raised by the event.

That money will go to the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation, a research charity set up by the 48-year-old, of Blainslie, after he was diagnosed with MND at the end of 2016.

Rugby stars including Gavin and Scott Hastings, George Gregan and Brian O’Driscoll, along with comedian Billy Connolly, were among at the Grand Hyatt Hotel fundraiser, billed as the greatest rugby dinner ever.

The artwork is now set to be hung up in the Scottish Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh.

It will be accompanied by a plaque naming all those who helped pick up the near-£100,000 bill for it as it was sold off in crowdfunding style to maximise the amount it raised.

Edinburgh-born Doddie, capped 61 times for Scotland between 1990 and 2000, said: “It is an odd experience to be confronted by a life-sized portrait of yourself. It’s certainly very striking.

“I feel immensely honoured to learn that the painting will find a final resting place in the Scottish Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh with a plaque acknowledging everyone who contributed to it.

“I am really very touched by this.

“Many thanks to Gerard and everyone who made a contribution.”

The auction of the painting has raised £80,000 so far, and contributions will continue to be taken until Sunday evening, April 7, and another £20,000 is expected to be added to that total by then.

Mr Burns, 57, said: “It is always a real stomach-churner for me to see how a sitter will react when they see their own portrait.

“It has been a real privilege to work with Doddie. I am thrilled with the portrait, and I sincerely hope I have done him justice. I think he liked it.

“He is an exceptional man in so many ways, and I am delighted to be gifting the painting to help raise £80,000 so far, for Doddie’s charity.

“From a purely selfish point of view, it is really just such a pleasure to work with a true sporting legend.”

The dinner, attended by around 500 guests, was organised by the Scottish expatriates living in Hong Kong as a precursor to a sevens tournament being held there from today, April 5, until Sunday.