He’s walked an incredible 4,509 miles to date; beginning on 5th March 2018 at the Baltic in Gateshead, through Northumberland, the entire coastline of Scotland, Cumbria, Lancashire, Merseyside and North Wales to Dublin. By September 2019, Brian Burnie, 75, completed walking the island of Ireland, meeting with doctors, oncologists, politicians, all the Lord Mayors and hundreds of well wishers.
Despite his developing Parkinson’s Disease, founder of the charity ‘Daft as a Brush Cancer Patient Care’ is on a 7,000 mile walk around the coastline of Great Britain and Ireland to highlight the transport issues faced by cancer patients. He’s taking the charity’s free service nationwide – all the while, living in a double decker bus! The North East based charity offers cancer patients free transport to and from hospital, who are undergoing Chemotherapy and / or Radiotherapy cancer treatment. In 2019, the charity completed some 45,000 patient journeys with a team of 350 volunteers.
Brian has found great similarities with the transport difficulties faced by patients in Wales to those in the north east of England; “I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some incredible people, many with first-hand experience of cancer and the daily struggle of getting to and from hospital. It’s an issue that effects so many patients in Wales. The feedback I’ve received has been incredible.”
A chance encounter with former rugby legend Scott Quinnell, gave Brian valuable encouragement and support. Scott described Brian as a “Trooper” and said, “You should be so proud of yourself on this incredible walk.”
Brian and Cheryl were invited to the Velindre Cancer Centre in Cardiff to discuss the charity’s service coming to Wales. Lisa Miller, Director of Operations said, “Absolute pleasure to meet the Daft as Brush team today. It’s been an excellent opportunity to hear the work the charity has done. I would really hope and love, to have the service implemented in Wales and I really want to wish Brian luck with achieving 1,000,000 cancer patient journeys and on his 7,000 mile walk around Great Britain.”
Whilst visiting the Velindre Cancer Centre, Brian was invited to meet Dan De’Ath – Lord Mayor of Cardiff, who also offered his support too. “I would like to wish Brian and the Daft as a Brush Team the very best of luck on their epic 7,000 mile journey for cancer patients, all the very best!”
Brian has seen outstanding countryside on his challenge, but Wales has been exceptional: “The Wales Coast Path has been truly outstanding, a real gem to discover. But the weather has been against me at times slowing my progress. Living on a double decker bus can be challenging in winter, but Cheryl and I are determined to complete the 7,000 mile challenge.”
Cheryl Burnie is thrilled with the support they have received, especially from the bus industries; “Bus companies in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales have been unbelievable. They’ve helped us so much and have been so kind, we can’t thank them enough. It’s very touching. I know Brian is very excited about possibility of bringing free cancer patient transport to Wales. Our home is currently parked at Newport Bus, the team there have been marvellous – their generosity has been very touching.”
The walk will continue past Cardiff to Chepstow; the end of the Wales Coast path for Brian before he crosses the Severn Bridge back into England. Walking up to 20 miles each day, 5 days a week is punishing, but the couple estimate to be back in the North East for Christmas 2020, returning via the east coast clocking up over 7,000 miles walked.
Brian may also be a World Record holder – An application for a new World Record has been made for the ‘Oldest person to walk the coastline of Great Britain and Ireland.’ Brian is funding the walk privately to ensure all monies raised go directly to helping cancer patients all over Great Britain and Ireland. Brian’s dream of creating 1,000,000 free cancer patient journeys could be turning into a reality, one step at a time.
You can follow Brian via GPS and discover more at: www.BluebellBus.org.uk
Learn more about Daft as a Brush Cancer Patient Care at www.DaftasaBrush.org.uk