North Coast 500: Edinburgh author close to raising £100,000 for MND charity after backing from Nicola Sturgeon

An Edinburgh author diagnosed with motor neurone disease is pushing his body to the limit in a 500 mile cycle around Scotland.

A young Edinburgh author is close to raising £100,000 for charity after winning the backing of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Davy Zyw, from Duddingston, was only 30-years-old when he was diagnosed with “wicked” motor neurone disease, but is pushing his body to the limit to cycle the North Coast 500 route with friends and family.

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After Covid-19 postponed the planned start of the mammoth challenge in May, Davy, his twin brother Tommy Zyw, and friends Craig Paul, Dan Elswood, Malcolm Holwill, Tom Platt and Ryan Brennan, all set off on the adventure earlier this week.

They are due to finish the fourth and final leg of the journey today.

On Thursday, Nicola Sturgeon tweeted her support for Davy, telling followers he was raising money for “a good and worthy cause.”

Having initially set out to raise £50,000 for My Name'5 Doddie Foundation, Davy’s JustGiving page is currently only £1,500 short of doubling that target.

“Thank you to everyone who has supported through our campaign,” Davy wrote, “we hope to do your generosity justice.”

Davy, his twin brother Tommy Zyw (both pictured), and friends Craig Paul, Dan Elswood, Malcolm Holwill, Tom Platt and Ryan Brennan, all set off on the adventure earlier this week.

Earlier this year, Davy, who has written two non-fiction books, spoke to the Edinburgh Evening News about the “wicked” disease that has “stolen” the best years of his life.

“Apart from the emotional weight, my symptoms are a shake and wasting of muscles, chiefly in my left hand and arm, and overall lack of energy and progressive loss of function in my hand,” he explained.

“My left hand is now so weak I can’t squeeze a tube of toothpaste. I can now feel the same thing happening on my right side.”

Paying tribute to My Name’5 Doddie, the charity founded by Scottish rugby legend Doddie Weir, who also has MND, Davy said: “His charity is doing amazing work, promoting awareness, funding research for a cure with the MND Association and MND Scotland; including the new MND-smart drug trials which have just started.

“His charity is helping people like me, and their families to live their best lives.”

And Davy is staying positive. “I reckon I have a couple of years of living ‘normally’ before I need daily help and care,” he said.

“So while I still have power in my legs and enough grip on my hands to hold on to my handlebars I want to help drive awareness of this life-shattering disease and do my bit to help find a cure.”

Davy said while it’s been a “difficult journey” getting to where he is now, he believes a positive frame of mind is helping him through.

He said: “It’s unlucky getting MND at any age, let alone when you are 30. But my youth helps me and I know that keeping fit and staying in a positive frame of mind saves me from the worst of it.”

“I’m doing everything to slow the symptoms of my disease. I swear good wine, fresh air and activity are saving me.”

You can donate to Davy’s fundraiser here.

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