A school's fundraising efforts have been given new drive after a motor dealer sourced a car for a charity draw.
Barnard Castle School students are busy selling tickets for a Ford Ka supplied by Kirkby Stephen Ford dealer Andrew Johnstone, whose son Harry is in sixth form while his brother George left last year.
Proceeds will swell the coffers of the school’s chosen charity, the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation, launched by the former Scottish and British Lion rugby union player George ‘Doddie’ Weir, who has been diagnosed with motor neurone disease.
Doddie, now 47, played lock and made 61 international appearances for the Scotland national team.
Fifteen months ago he was diagnosed with MND, a muscle-wasting disease caused by the failure of neurons in the body to fire correctly. Currently incurable, it results in all the muscles shutting down.
He said: “So you eventually can’t walk, you can’t lift, you can’t swallow, you can’t eat, you can’t breathe, because your diaphragm stops working. So your whole body shuts down eventually. And the only drug to slow it down was developed 22 years ago.”
Life expectancy is usually two to five years. Doddie was told he’d be wheelchair-bound in one.
Barnard Castle School, has a long tradition of producing successful rugby players including 42 internationals since 1998 and, before that, celebrated players such as Rob Andrew and the Underwood brothers.
Headmaster Tony Jackson said: “When our charities committee heard about the plight of Doddie and the lack of investment in MND research they felt compelled to do something to help.
“Every year our students strive to help charitable causes – last year they raised £14,000 for a variety of organisations and presented the Alzheimer’s Society with £5,000. Giving something back to the community is at the heart of the school’s ethos and our students are already coming up with some fantastic ideas to raise as much money as possible.”
Mr Johnstone said: “My boys absolutely love the school and my nieces attend there as well. I am delighted to source the car for the draw and am also getting my rugby club at Kirkby Stephen to help too.
“Doddie has been a speaker at our club in the past and it is amazing to think how fit and well he was then. None of us know what lies around the corner and by pulling together perhaps we can make a real difference in finding a cure to this awful disease.”
The fundraising kicked off at a recent festival of sport at the school which attracted more than 1,000 people from around the country to see scores of rugby and hockey matches.
It will continue on November 24 with a sports dinner which will include special guests Falcons back Alex Tait and Rob Andrew, a former player, Falcons and England Rugby director and current chief executive of Sussex County Cricket Club.
Tickets are £50 and available from the school office.