A previously healthy and active former rugby player is battling motor neurone disease, his lifelong friend, entertainer Max Boyce, has revealed.

Mike Griffiths, also known as Tubby, was diagnosed with the condition, which affects the brain and nerves, in early January.

The successful former rugby player is hugely popular in the area, and is most recognised for playing for Aberavon, Neath and Glynneath rugby clubs as prop forward.

Since retiring from rugby, he has always been an active member of the local community, through coaching rugby at all ages and being a member of the Glynneath RFC committee.

The Port Talbot steelworker was also a keen cyclist and mountain walker and now has a great enthusiasm for bee keeping.

Mr Griffiths pictured at the top of Pen y Fan
Mr Griffiths in his playing days

Mr Boyce, president of Glynneath RFC, said: "He is a lifelong servant to the club and he and his family have done as much as anybody.

"We were all deeply saddened by the news, he is such a strong, powerful man, the last person you expect this to happen to. He is a hill walker, and is really, really fit.

"He is facing it with huge courage as we would have expected from him. He is a positive and courageous guy."

Motor Neurone Disease explained...

To support the Glynneath 58-year-old in maintaining the best quality of life with motor neurone disease, his friends and family are now looking to raise the funds to get him a trip to America for clinical trials.

They said that, currently, no effective treatment existed for those who had the condition in the UK, and they would like to ensure he had the best chance to live a fulfilled life and give him as much independence as possible.

Mr Griffiths is a keen beekeeper

Mr Boyce, who is a member of a fundraising committee looking to raise £10,000, added: "He is a genuinely good guy, a hugely popular guy and it is indicative of how popular he is that £6,000 has been raised for the fund in two days. 

"It is especially so in the current climate, which has made it really difficult for hard hit communities where people are not in work. There's also the extra problem of there being nowhere to collect.

"It shows the reaction of people and his friends in this most trying and unprecedented time and it is indicative of the community spirit and also his popularity and the respect he commands.

"We pledge to do whatever is needed to make sure he gets the treatment he deserves."

If you wish to donate towards the fundraising campaign, click here.