Tears in Scottish Parliament for rugby legend Doddie Weir

A Tory MSP choked back tears earlier today as he reacted to the news that Scottish rugby legend Doddie Weir had been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND).
Doddie Weir at the Greenyards earlier this year.Doddie Weir at the Greenyards earlier this year.
Doddie Weir at the Greenyards earlier this year.

During a debate on the degenerative disease, Mr Whittle, a Conservative list MSP for the South of Scotland, paid tribute to campaigner and Labour aide Gordon Aikman, who raised £600,000 to fund research into the disease before his death at the age of just 31.

Mr Whittle, a former Olympic runner, then became emotional as he talked about his friend Doddie Weir, who announced yesterday that he was battling the illness.

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Mr Weir, 46, who was capped 61 times for Scotland and also turned out for the British and Irish Lions, made the announcement to coincide with Global MND Awareness day.

European Gold Medallist Mr Whittle, who is the Tories’ Health Spokesman, confessed he worried Mr Weir would call him a ‘big Jessie’ for his emotional display.

He said in the Scottish Parliament: “He’s going to call me such a big Jessie – my friend Doddie Weir announced he had MND.”

After breaking down again, Mr Whittle added: “He is, in fact he’s going to call me a ‘small Jessie’ cos he’s the only man who gets away with calling me ‘Wee Man’”.

He told MSPs that Mr Weir’s diagnosis showed “The indiscriminate nature of this horrible disease.”

Mr Whittle was given support from across the political divide, as SNP MSP and Deputy Presiding Officer Christine Grahame told him: “The last thing you are, Mr Whittle, is that.”

Labour leader Kezia Dugdale tweeted: “Lovely heartfelt speech from Brian Whittle in MND debate - but word to the wise Brian, it takes a real man to cry.”