Can­cer char­ity cam­paign is any­thing but daft

Campbeltown Courier - - NEWS -

Pic­ture it – you are a mil­lion­aire, mar­ried and liv­ing a life of lux­ury in a man­sion. Then you give it all away to char­ity. Many peo­ple would (un­kindly) de­scribe these ac­tions as mad­ness. Or maybe ‘daft as a brush’. Brian Burnie cares not a jot. The for­mer mil­lion­aire’s pri­mary fo­cus these days is not his own fi­nan­cial gain, but on mak­ing life a lit­tle eas­ier for can­cer pa­tients and their fam­i­lies. The con­struc­tion en­gi­neer made his money on Ty­ne­side and was liv­ing quite hap­pily – then his wife was di­ag­nosed with breast can­cer. He wit­nessed, first hand, the high level of care she re­ceived and she thank­fully over­came the dis­ease. But he be­gan to re­alise the pres­sure and stress placed on pa­tients in meet­ing ap­point­ment times. Eight years ago he set up ‘Daft as a Brush Can­cer Pa­tient Care’ to serve the New­cas­tle area and the char­ity now of­fers staffed cus­tom-made ve­hi­cles to trans­port can­cer out­pa­tients, free of charge, to and from hospi­tal. With 27 ve­hi­cles, the char­ity pro­vides more than 40,000 can­cer pa­tient jour­neys each year by 300plus ded­i­cated vol­un­teers. Pa­tients are col­lected from home and taken to where they will be hav­ing their treat­ment, with a vol­un­teer com­pan­ion if de­sired, be­fore be­ing re­turned home. So suc­cess­ful has the char­ity been that 74-year-old Brian plans to ex­pand into other parts of the UK and has his sights set on Scot­land. To raise the char­ity’s pro­file, he is walk­ing the en­tire coast of Great Bri­tain and Ire­land over two years, with a con­verted dou­ble decker bus named ‘Blue­bell’ as his home. The vi­sion, says Brian, is to cre­ate more than 1,000,000 can­cer pa­tient jour­neys. He set off from Ty­ne­side on March 5 and last week – 2,000 miles into his 7,000-mile trek – he ar­rived in Tar­bert. He and his wife parted some years back and Brian has been ac­com­pa­nied on his jour­ney by South African­born Ch­eryl. It was on the ro­man­tic Isle of Skye that the cou­ple de­cided to tie the knot, while on the west coast leg of his walk. His walk­ing chal­lenge has been made more dif­fi­cult by the fact he has been suf­fer­ing from Parkinson’s Dis­ease for the past seven years, but Brian re­mains un­daunted. ‘In my opin­ion, some Scot­tish scenery is up there with the most beau­ti­ful in the world,’ he said, ‘and I have been very im­pressed with the Kin­tyre Way.’ He ex­plained: ‘The whole point of this is that can­cer pa­tients are able to ar­rive for ap­point­ments less stressed, al­low­ing treat­ment to be more ef­fec­tive. ‘Spe­cial­ists tell me get­ting to ap­point­ments is more stress­ful than chemo and ra­dio­ther­apy, and I want to do some­thing about that.’ He added: ‘Treat­ment and trans­port must be in­te­grated and it isn’t at the mo­ment across most of the coun­try. Trans­port should dic­tate ap­point­ment times.’ To find out more about Daft as a Brush, visit the web­site at www.blue­bell­bus.org.uk

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Brian and Ch­eryl en­joy a break from walk­ing in Tar­bert.

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