Brian spreads the word, one step at a time

Charity walker Brian Burnie has reached the halfway stage of his 7,000-mile challenge – four countries and 14 months since setting off.

By Janet Hall
Friday, 31 May, 2019, 07:00
Brian Burnie at the Titanic Museum in Belfast.

The 74-year-old has clocked up 3,502 miles of his epic walk to take cancer patient care charity Daft as a Brush nationwide.

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

Brian Burnie meets Prof Joe O'Sullivan at the Belfast City Hospital Cancer Centre.

He is promoting the charity nationwide by walking the entire coastal path of Great Britain and Ireland in two years.

After arriving at the midway point at Ballycastle in County Antrim, Brian said: “It’s such a beautiful area.

“From the Baltic in Gateshead to Ballycastle, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting so many incredible people, some far from home who’ve had first-hand experience with cancer and the daily difficulties getting to and from hospital.”

Brian is being supported on the walk by his wife Cheryl from their mobile base, a converted double-decker bus called Bluebell.

Cheryl said: “Brian rarely complains but his challenge has been difficult. Poor weather can create unforgiving conditions.

“Walking 15 to 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 7,000mile mission, I am so very proud of him.”

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Brian has met many cancer specialists on his walk, including Professor Joe O’Sullivan at Belfast City Hospital Cancer Centre.

Prof O’Sullivan said: “It’s been incredible to hear the success of the team in delivering transport for patients in Newcastle and I really wish Brian and the team well on their 7,000-mile walk around Britain and Ireland.

“We, in Belfast, would look very much forward to engaging and working with Daft as a Brush in due course. We would love to see the good work of this charity coming here to Northern Ireland.”

Brian added: “The Daft as a Brush concept has been received so well in Northern Ireland, I am really thrilled.

“I am looking forward to walking the Wild Atlantic Way in a few weeks time and to highlight the transport issues cancer patients cope with.”

Brian set off from the Baltic, Gateshead, 14 months ago.

His route has already taken him through Northumberland, Scotland, Cumbria, Lancashire and North Wales.

It will take him another five months and 1,700 miles to walk the island of Ireland before he returns to North Wales later this year.

He’s due back in the North East in autumn 2020.

With further appointments and consultations, Brian’s dream of creating one million cancer patient journeys is taking shape, one step at a time.