The Courier

Monifieth High youngsters backing Fife MND sufferer Donald in half-marathon bid

Some of the pupils who will be joining Donald Dewar in his half marathon attempt on Saturday

A weekend half marathon bid by a former Fife teacher battling motor neurone disease is to receive the support of Angus secondary school youngsters.

The pupils say they have been humbled by the wheelchair-bound athlete’s determination to raise funds for research into the condition.

On Saturday morning, ex-Madras College maths teacher Donald Grewar will embark on 52 laps of the St Andrews University running track in his power chair in the 13-mile challenge expected to take several hours.

© DC Thomson
Donald completed the Monifieth High 10k earlier this year

Willing Donald on will be staff and pupils of Monifieth High, who enthusiastically welcomed him to their annual 10k run in May and presented the event’s four-figure proceeds to the MND charity for which he is fundraising.

Donald, from Dairsie, worked in the United States and New Zealand before teaching at Madras.

A keen runner who completed his fifth marathon just weeks before experiencing the first symptoms of the degenerative disease in 2013, Donald, 55, has since undertaken a number of fundraising challenges for the Euan MacDonald Centre at Edinburgh University which is leading research into the condition.

Monifieth High chemistry teacher David Sleigh, who is also a member of Fife Athletics Club which has given support to Donald in his fundraising challenges, said: “We were delighted to have Donald at our 10k earlier this year after he contacted us and asked if he could enter the event.

“We made a couple of changes to the course to suit him and Donald’s determination made a real impact on the staff and pupils at the school.

“We are absolutely delighted to be able to help with his half marathon this weekend.

“A couple of our sixth-year boys, Jacob Dempster and Ryan Docherty, walked all the way with Donald on the 10k and they are determined to complete the full half marathon with him.

“We will also have staff and pupils there to accompany Donald and provide support from trackside, with a barbeque and so on being set up during the day.”

Pupils are also asking their schoolmates for a £1 donation to boost Donald’s fundraising.

Mr Sleigh echoed the praise of Monifieth head teacher M C McInally in saying how impressed staff at the Angus secondary had been with the level of support shown by pupils for both the 10k event and the upcoming challenge.

He added: “Donald has been in touch and he has told me he is absolutely delighted with the support he is getting from our youngsters.

“His determination to complete our 10k had a big effect on the pupils involved in the event and we are very proud that they are keen to help him with this weekend’s half marathon,” said Mr Sleigh.

One of Donald’s former Madras pupils, Brynja Duthie, was also responsible for setting up a St Andrews 5k run in support of the man who she said was an “inspirational” figure at the Fife secondary.

Her Mr G’s MND 5k was given the support of former Scotland rugby international Doddie Weir, who is also fighting the terminal muscle-wasting condition.