Former Scotland Rugby Captain Mike Biggar (S 63-68) Walks To Raise Money For The NHS


Mike Biggar (S 63-68), former Head of School and Scotland rugby captain who has limited mobility after a near fatal car crash in 1992, is raising money for the NHS by walking 100 steps in a month. Mike, now 70, said he was inspired by the efforts of Captain Tom Moore, the 100-year-old who has raised over £33m by walking lengths of his garden.

On 1st May a video of Mike’s inspiring determination in action was shared on Facebook by his old rugby team, Barbarian FC.

Please see the following article from The Times, published on April 29th 2020.

As he has spent the best part of three decades living with the debilitating consequences of the near-fatal car crash that left him with permanent brain damage, you might forgive Mike Biggar for believing that life has dealt him a dud hand and feeling a little hacked off about his lot.

Yet over the course of a conversation with the 70-year-old former Scotland flanker and captain, who won 24 caps between 1975 and 1980, it quickly becomes clear that his defining qualities are not anger and rage, but humility, humour and fortitude. Far for wallowing in self-pity over the event that almost ended his days 28 years ago, he is overwhelmingly grateful to those who have worked so hard to prolong them since.

The most recent example of that came last month when Biggar was rushed to Cheltenham General Hospital with a serious kidney infection. In the midst of the coronavirus, his family feared the worst, but the care, compassion and skill of the staff brought him back from the brink. The episode left him much weakened but determined to do something in return.

OK, maybe he took a little prodding. “It was that guy [Capt Tom Moore] in the paper doing all his steps,” Biggar explains. “My two sons humbled me into it and said, ‘come on dad, you old plonker, what about you doing it as well?’ There are about a million reasons why I agreed to do it, but the short answer is ‘why not?’

“I’ve been spoiled in the way everyone has rallied round. It makes you feel special. One of my experiences of rehabilitation is that every little achievement matters and how much people rally round.


“People put you in hospital and they bother for you. They make the bloody effort. The humbling thing that it is clearly worth it. It is not just for them, but as a wider reflection for all of us. We all like the idea of being in a winning team. We’ve been involved in plenty of teams that finished second in the past.”

Biggar initially set a target of 100 steps to raise money for NHS charities. It sounds an absurdly small total, but watch a video of him and you will understand that even one pace is a monumental effort of will and determination for a man whose condition is complicated by arthritis andbwho has been in a wheelchair for the past ten years. In the two weeks before starting his challenge he managed just four steps, but is now up to about 25 per day. He has now raised his sights and plans to do a total of 500.

At the time of writing his target of £50,000 is tantalisingly close. A session of steps — he holds himself on handrails on at the side of his Wiltshire home — takes so much out of him that he needs to sleep it off afterwards, but even that pattern provokes some sly wit. “Having a rest is very important for all of us,” he says. “We are all terribly ambitious in our youth but, as maturity hits, you find you can’t do two-thirds of the square root of damn all without having a kip.”

Ali, his wife, is a constant source of support, literal and figurative, for Biggar as he deals with everyday challenges. And while he admits that his memory “got blown apart” by his 1992 car crash, he still draws inspiration from his time in a Scotland pack that was among the best the country has ever produced.

Not that he is claiming credit for that. “I was lucky to come into the Scotland team with so many gems in it. We had a fantastic front five with Ian McLauchlan, Duncan Madsen, Sandy Carmichael, Gordon Brown and Al McHarg. We lot in the back row were just stuck on as an extra.”

Biggar, who played for London Scottish, made his Scotland debut in a win over Ireland in the opening match of the 1975 Five Nations. A few weeks later, he played in front of the biggest crowd ever to watch a rugby game when 104,000 spectators packed into Murrayfield to watch the Scots beat the great Welsh team of the era 12-10.

He recalls: “It makes you appreciate how lucky you were to play with guys like that. Everyone achieved what they achieved by being themselves, by getting stuck in. As Jim Renwick would say, ‘Ye dae whit ye can and jist get on wi’ it’.”

It is not a bad piece of advice, and Biggar is happy to follow it. When he was thundering around the world’s pitches he was never renowned for his sidestep, but he has become pretty adept at wrong-footing the grim reaper since then. And you suspect he’ll be doing it for some time yet.


Click here to see the original article from The Times.

Click here to see an additional article from the BBC.

Please also click here to visit Mike’s JustGiving page and to donate to this special cause.