Man who founded cancer charity is Derry bound

A former millionaire who ploughed his entire fortune into a charity to provide free transport for cancer patients, is due to arrive in Derry as part of an epic 7,000-mile trek around Britain and Ireland.

Tuesday, 28th May 2019, 8:26 am
Updated Tuesday, 28th May 2019, 9:26 am
Brian Burnie with Oncologists at the North West Cancer Centre in Derry before beginning his trek around Ireland.

Brian Burnie (74) is a man on a mission and wants to see the services his charity provides in the north east of England expanded right across these islands.

Former entrepreneur, Mr. Burnie, who has Parkinson’s Disease, gave up his stately home and other belongings and founded the ‘Daft as a Brush’ Cancer Patient Care charity in the North East of England in 2010. Since then it has gone on to offer 40,000 patient journeys each year for people receiving chemotherapy and radiotherapy, with a team of over 300 volunteers.

He has now reached the halfway points of 3,502 miles in his 7,000 miles journey.

Brian Burnie pictured on his trek along the north coast.

He set off from the coastline of Northumberland a year ago and has trekked through Scotland, Cumbria, Lancashire, Merseyside, North Wales and County Down. By the weekend he had reached Cushendall in County Antrim and is due to reach Derry sometime this Saturday.

Accompanied by his wife Cheryl, Brian is living on a double decker bus called “Bluebell” and they will be on the island of Ireland for the next 1,800 miles - at least another five months.

Prior to beginning his walk, he met with oncologists at the North West Cancer Centre at Altnagelvin Hospital in the hope of setting up a meeting and was amazed at the reception he received.

Brian has an old saying; ‘shy-bairns-get-nowt’ and said: “We drove to Derry to see where we could park our Bus on the next ‘hop’ and called in to the North West Cancer Centre to make an appointment.

“Ten minutes later, we were sitting with the Assistant Director of Nursing, Una Cardin, Dr.Mazdai and Dr.Ahmed Bedair, Consultant Oncologists - you cant make this up! They loved the idea of ‘Daft as a Brush’ coming to Derry.”

Dr.Mazdai, Consultant Oncologist at the North West Cancer Centre said: “I am pleased to have seen the Team from ‘Daft as a Brush,’ I know they have been very successful in Newcastle upon Tyne. It would be good to see a successful set-up locally and I would welcome them.”

Cheryl Burnie, Brian’s wife, has been supporting him from their bus. She said: “Brian rarely complains, but his challenge has been difficult. Poor weather can create unforgiving conditions.

“Walking 15-20 miles a day would be a testing trial for anyone, but Brian is coping with Parkinson’s disease. It is common to become easily tired during walking, even after short distances, but he is so determined to complete his 7,000 mile mission, I am so very proud of him.”

‘Daft a Brush Cancer Patient Care’ transports outpatients, free of charge, to and from hospital, where they are undergoing chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy cancer treatment.

Brian’s dream is to create 1,000,000 cancer patient journeys and it is is taking shape, one step at a time.

You can follow Brian’s walk and discover more at www.bluebellbus.org.uk