DAVID Beckham is among the celebrities supporting a father’s pledge to continue Doddie Weir’s legacy and find a cure for Motor Neurone Disease (MND).

James Clarke has raised £441,000 for the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation so far – and has pledged to continue the former Scotland rugby international’s work on MND.

The money Clarke has raised will go towards research into the disease, and his efforts included a celebrity-backed 50-mile cycling challenge and a glamorous charity ball.

Stars including football legend David Beckham, broadcaster Fearne Cotton, and astronaut Tim Peake (below) are among the celebrities backing Clarke’s efforts.

The National: Tim Peake in preparation for launch by NASA/Joel Kowsky under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 licence (creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/) via flic.kr/p/CdPPyP

Speaking about Weir, who died last month, father of three Clarke said: “The strength and determination he displayed whilst fighting MND was truly inspirational and the legacy he leaves is the stuff of legend.

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“I didn’t play much rugby at school, but I promise to pick the ball up and drive towards the MND try line supported by friends and family as teammates and score some points against this toughest of opponents.”

Clarke said the total he has raised so far was done in just five months, with the support of his friends, family, strangers and celebrities.

He went on: “If that helps just one family going through something similar to mine, then I know it’s a job well done.”

Clarke (below), from Hampshire, was diagnosed with the disease in December 2021.

The National:

He completed a 50-mile cycling challenge in July along Shipwright’s Way surrounded by his 13-year-old son, Ollie, and 24 riders.

Describing the cycle as the “hardest thing I’ve ever had to do”, he said having his son with him was a boost.

He went on: “I was very emotional crossing the finish line. I have never felt anything like it.”

In October, he hosted the inaugural Brancaster Ball at the Frensham Hall in Farnham.

The black-tie event had 380 guests in attendance and raised £207,000 for MND research. Another event on February 4 is already sold out.

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“It was better than I ever could have imagined," Clarke said.

“I was completely overwhelmed by the support my family and I received on the night, and I am delighted we managed to raise as much as we did to fund the fight against MND."

There needs to be more research into finding a cure for MND, he said, stating that it is a complex disease for which there is no cure or meaningful treatment.

He went on: “For me, it’s about putting a stop to MND and contributing anything I can to fund research into finding a cure.

“It’s because of the work of this charity that people like me and our families can lead as good a life as possible, and for that I am truly grateful.”

Jill Douglas, My Name’5 Doddie Foundation chief executive officer, called Clarke’s efforts “inspiring”.

She said: “What an amazing effort by James and his family and friends. He is such an inspiring character and we very much appreciate his support.

“Like Doddie, James is giving so much of his precious time to raise funds to hopefully put an end to this disease. It is because of people like James that we can continue to fund our vital research and clinical trials so we can finally find a cure for MND.”

To support Clarke’s fundraising efforts, visit justgiving.com/fundraising/james-clarke79