Team honours legacy of MND research champion

A youth football side is teaming up with medical researchers to raise awareness of a devastating condition that affects the brain.

The West Lothian team has dropped their usual business sponsorship on their shirts this season to highlight research into motor neuron disease (MND) and honour the legacy of Tam Agnew, who died of MND earlier this year, aged 45.

Players with kit
Arran Fowler and Ethan Harris with the new strip

Scientists say the gesture by Blackburn United under-16s will help promote vital work being done to tackle the disease, which causes muscles to waste away and affects movement, speech and breathing.

Euan MacDonald Centre

The Blackburn United youth home strips will bear the logo of the University of Edinburgh’s Euan MacDonald Centre for MND Research as a tribute to Tam and the work of his sister, Sharon Wallace, who has volunteered with the team over the last decade.

The Euan MacDonald Centre is a network of researchers from across Scotland who are working to improve the lives of people with MND and find treatments that can slow, stop or reverse the condition.

Tam volunteered for the Euan MacDonald Centre as a member of the MND-SMART advisory group, working alongside researchers on the development of the clinical drugs trial, the biggest UK trial for MND in a generation.

Surprise gift

The move to drop commercial sponsors tor two seasons is a surprise gift for Tam’s sister, Sharon, as she steps down as secretary after ten years of service to the club.

Researchers teaching team
Researchers Brenda Murage and Emily Beswick

Euan MacDonald Centre researchers Brenda Murage and Emily Beswick visited the players at the start of the season to share information about MND and highlight the importance of research.

Centre Co-founder Euan MacDonald said Tam had been a great champion for MND research and it was very moving to see his efforts recognised by the team.

Having the Euan MacDonald Centre logo on the team strips is a wonderful gesture and we are very proud to see the Centre promoted in this way.”

Euan MacDonald

Sharon Wallace said she was thrilled by the gesture: “I’m touched that we can honour Tam in this way as youth football in West Lothian has been such a big part of both of our lives. His dedication to helping research really shone through and he was driven by helping others with MND. This is a really special parting gift as I step down from my role with the team.”

Sister with new strip
Sharon Wallace with the new strip

Sharon has been such a big part of this team for so long. We couldn’t think of a better way thank her for the contribution that she’s made to the team and to honour her brother, Tam, and his passion for football. I’m grateful to the researchers who have come down to speak to the boys to explain the vital work being done by The Euan MacDonald Centre. The boys will now be able to wear their new home kits with a real understanding as well as pride.

Alan HarrisBlackburn United team secretary

Related links

The Euan MacDonald Centre

Blackburn United


(Picture credits: Lesley Martin)