Mike Biggar awarded MBE for services to charity and NHS
During this difficult year dominated by the pandemic there has been little to celebrate in sport, but for one former Scotland rugby captain, 2020 has been a personal triumph as he raised just under £90,000 for charity – so far - and was awarded the MBE.
Mike Biggar was inspired by the sight of Captain Tom Moore, the war veteran who captured the hearts of so many people when he took on the challenge of completing 100 laps of his garden before his 100th birthday, to raise money for NHS Charities Together during the Covid-19 crisis.
Mike wanted to support the same cause, but his challenge was different. The former flanker, who represented his country on 24 occasions, was involved in a near-fatal car crash in 1992 which left him with serious long-term injuries, and for the past ten years he has needed a wheelchair. To raise money for the NHS, he decided to set a target of walking 100 steps in a month to raise £10,000 - as featured on the Scottish rugby website earlier this year.
Parallel bars were set up in the garden of his house in Wiltshire, made from scaffolding poles, and before long, both targets had been exceeded, and then extended. Again. And again.
To date, Mike has made 5,800 steps and raised £87,000 from 2,000 supporters – including a donation of £3,000 from the Murrayfield Injured Players Foundation – and he is still going, with a new target of raising £100,000. He was even out on Christmas Day, when another 20 steps were clocked up.
And although his heroic efforts have not had the publicity of Captain Tom, they have not gone unnoticed. Just a few weeks ago he was awarded the MBE in the delayed Queen’s Birthday Honours list, for services to Charity and the NHS during the Covid-19 response.
Mike was also given the Prime Minister’s own ‘Points of Light’ award, made to outstanding individual volunteers who are making a change in their community, and he reached the final four contenders in the ‘Celebrity Hero’ category of the Amplifon Awards for Brave Britons, alongside TV fitness coach Joe Wickes and eventual winner Marcus Rashford, the Manchester United footballer and food poverty campaigner.
“I’ve been incredibly inspired by the enthusiasm and support of others,” said a “humbled” Mike, who turned 71 in November. “This [MBE] is a huge honour and matters a great deal to me.”
His wife Ali added: “We’ve all been on this journey with Mike, and we are immensely proud.
“The whole challenge has been very good for him, both physically and mentally, which is why he has kept going. It has given Mike a real purpose and a goal, and it has raised money for a good cause.
“We really hope he can eventually receive his MBE in person rather than in an online ceremony, even if it means waiting until the end of next year. It would really give him something to live for next year. We talk about three big things he can look forward to - the MBE, our son Tom’s graduation from his master’s degree next summer after we all missed out on his graduation earlier this year because of Covid, and the wedding next year of Mike’s son George who has just got engaged.”
As well as many years of care and support since his car accident, Mike was also looked after by the NHS earlier in 2020 when he was admitted to hospital with suspected kidney failure, from which he recovered.
Mike’s son George said: “My dad believes he owes the NHS a lot and sees what he is doing as some way of saying thanks to everyone involved. The money he raises goes to the NHS Charities Together and what he would like to see happening is for patients to be provided with iPads and things so that they can keep in touch with their families who aren’t allowed to visit during the present crisis.”