Up and running

Pupils from all over Northumberland and North Tyneside gather at Greys Monument at Newcastle for a sing-along to publicise new buses being paid for by charity 'Daft as a Brush'.
Pupils from all over Northumberland and North Tyneside gather at Greys Monument at Newcastle for a sing-along to publicise new buses being paid for by charity 'Daft as a Brush'.

A CHARITY to help cancer patients in Northumberland held a colourful city launch event.

Brian Burnie spent 16 years and £16million renovating Doxford Hall, near Chathill, but he decided to sell the multi-million pound venue and use the proceeds to set up Daft as a Brush Cancer Care.

Work has been on-going to put in place a fleet of custom-made vehicles, which will transport cancer patients from the county between their home and north east hospitals, and fund-raising activities have been taking place to help with costs.

With the first two ready for action, an official launch was held last week at Grey’s Monument in Newcastle, with more than 300 schoolchildren, Chelsea Pensioners and Pearly Queens Phyllis Broadbent and Jackie Murphy among those who attended.

Mr Burnie said: “It was a glorious day and it’s great to have a good news story when there are so many bad ones around at the moment.

“The icing on the cake was picking up our first cancer patient the next day and now our focus is getting the full fleet of 25 vehicles up and running.”

The patient, Michael Peters, has continued to be a full-time sheep farmer at Whitefield Farm near Rothbury despite being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma last year.

Following chemotherapy treatment he has had encouraging scans at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle and hopes to receive the all clear in the next few months.

Mr Peters said: “It’s absolutely marvellous what Brian is doing and I think he is a modern day good Samaritan.

“His charity is complementing the Ambulance Car Service, which is great because there’s far more demand than supply at the moment.

“These vehicles will be particularly useful at night as they will take people who have been to hospital and want to get home as soon as possible back to their house without delay and in comfort.”

Mr Burnie and wife Shirley moved to Oldgate in Morpeth after selling Doxford Hall, before getting a house in Longframlington.

The charity is on the lookout for more volunteer drivers.

For information about the role, email info@daftasabrush.org.uk