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Inspirational | Disabled rugby legend steps out for NHS

Former Scotland captain Mike Biggar is seeking to conquer “his own Everest” this month.

Biggar, 70, who sustained serious brain damage in a horrific car crash in 1992, is determined to take 100 steps to raise funds for the NHS.

The 70-year-old, who was capped 24-times on the flank for Scotland out of the London Scottish club between 1975 and 1980, is almost entirely dependent on his wheelchair for mobility.


He spent five weeks on life support in a coma and more than one year in hospital following the accident, effectively having to learn to walk and talk again.

“For a while he was walking with sticks, but a series of falls saw him take some knocks to his head and that coupled with the arthritis from his playing days led to a deterioration,” explained his son, George.

For the last ten years, Biggar – who captained Scotland three times in 1980, including in the astonishing Andy Irvine inspired victory over France – has been confined to a wheelchair.

Last month, he was rushed to hospital in Cheltenham from his home in the Cotswolds, with a serious kidney infection.

“He was treated very quickly and very expertly by the NHS staff and happily was able to return home to the attention of his wife Ali and his team of dedicated carers. He lost a lot of weight and muscle and, with typical determination, he’s looking to build himself back up and get his muscles and strength back,” explained George.

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In his garden at home are two bannisters, akin to parallel bars, made from scaffolding poles. Using the bars as support, Biggar has pledged to haul himself out of his wheelchair and walk 100 steps in the next 30 days.

“He’s pretty committed to doing it. It’s his own Everest. It can be painful to watch him. You want to help. It’s like wanting to finish the sentence of someone who has a stammer.

“But dad, inspired by the amazing efforts of the World War Two veteran, Captain Tom Moore, and wanting to show his own appreciation for the efforts of the NHS staff in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, has set up a Just Giving page with the aim of raising £10,000 for NHS Charities Together,” said George.

George knows what it is to undertake a charity challenge. More than two years ago, along with three friends, Dicky Taylor, Peter Robinson and Stuart Watts, he raised almost £500,000 for the mental health charity MIND and Spinal Injury Research, having completed the row across the Atlantic Ocean in a record time of 29 days and 15 hours.

His dad’s fund-raising page was set-up on Sunday (19 April) and before then he had managed around five steps in a fortnight.

“With the Just Giving page set-up, he managed ten steps on Monday. It’s just spurring him on to achieve his goal.”

George’s younger brother, Tom, said: “It’s testament to dad’s character and synonymous with the way he played rugby that he’s tackling this head on and with such a great sense of humour.”

You can support Mike Biggar via this page: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/mike-biggar . After reaching his initial £10,000 target, Mike has now extended the target to £20,000.

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