Charity champion strides into Seaham and Sunderland on 7,000 mile trek
A charity champion who’s trekking 7,000 across the country for a good cause strided into Sunderland and Seaham for the last leg.
For the past two-and-a-half years, Brian Burnie has been trekking the length and breadth of Great Britain and Ireland to promote the free cancer patient transport provided by the Daft As A Brush charity he founded.
The 76-year-old has battled through snow, rain, freezing and exhausting temperatures to walk thousands of miles since setting off in March 2018, now he’s passed through Seaham and Sunderland on the final leg of the trek.
Brian is doing the walk with wife Cheryl by his side because he’s determined to take his free transport service all over the country.
He said: “On my walk I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some incredible people, many with direct experience of cancer and the daily challenge of getting to and from hospital.
"This issue affects so many patients regardless of where they live. The feedback I’ve received from cancer centres all over the country, has been incredible.”
Each day, Brian and Cheryl walk around 5 to 6 miles – staying in a converted double decker bus called Bluebell - with friends, supporters and well wishers joining them along the way. It was a particularly special part of the route for Cheryl who is from Sunderland.
Cheryl is an active member of Soroptimist International Club of Sunderland, and was president of the group from 2016-17.
Last year, the club raised more than £600 for the Bluebell Bus Coastal Walk which they donated to Brian and Cheryl in November 2019.
Brian, who has Parkinson’s Disease, and will return to Newcastle Gateshead in late September, said: “I am really excited to be at the final stage. The last two-and-a-half years have been a real challenge but I am looking forward to completing the walk where it began in 2018.”
But Brian won’t be putting his feet up anytime soon.
Throughout his walk he has visited NHS cancer centres and hospitals promoting the charity, with the aim of creating 1,000,000 free patient hospital journeys nationwide.
“When the walk is over, I will be inviting all the hospitals we’ve met with to Daft as a Brush House in Newcastle for a presentation and to begin rolling out the service in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales from 2021,” he said.
Newcastle-based Daft as a Brush and its 350 volunteers provides transport for patients receiving chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy cancer treatment.
Brian adds: “Our fantastic volunteers have kept the service going throughout the Covid-19 crisis and I truly believe there are others all over the country who feel as passionate as we do in the North East about helping cancer patients on the road to recovery.”
The service entails collecting and transporting patients in a safe and comfortable environment from where they are living to where they will be having their treatment. If required, a volunteer companion will stay with the patient during their chemotherapy and / or radiotherapy.
They return the patient to their home in readiness for their next course of treatment.
You can donate to Daft as a Brush at daftasabrushbluebellbus.org.uk