Three countries, 12 months and 3,000 miles – that’s the incredible tally clocked up by charity trekker Brian Burnie.
A year ago this month, Brian set off on an epic 7,000-mile walk around the coast of Britain to spread the word about his charity, Daft as a Brush Patient Cancer Care, and raise £4million to expand it nationwide.
On the way, he has met cancer specialists, racked up hundreds of new supporters and even found time to get married.
Twelve months and 3,000 miles later, Brian has walked the entire coastal path of Northumberland, into Scotland, Cumbria, Lancashire, Merseyside and North Wales, where he celebrated his first year on the road with a pancake party at Llandudno.
Brian, 74, said: “I’m thrilled to have achieved 3,000 miles since March 5, 2018.
“As it was the anniversary of starting the walk and Shrove Tuesday, we had a pancake party to celebrate on Llandudno Pier.
“Supporters and volunteers travelled all the way from Newcastle to be with us and it really makes me appreciate what a fantastic team we have.
“I was so pleased to meet the Mayor of Llandudno, Francis Davies, and his wife, Sonia, who came along to congratulate us. We met so many local people and visitors to Llandudno, too. It’s been quite moving for us.”
Mr Davies: “It’s been wonderful to meet Brian and his team here today on his amazing 7,000 walk around the country. He’s doing great work for the charity.
“It is a pleasure to welcome them all to North Wales and Llandudno and I wish them all the best success in the future.”
Brian and wife Cheryl, who tied the knot on the Isle of Skye, hosted the party on board Bluebell, the double decker bus which is their mobile home for the two-year challenge.
Among the supporters marking the milestone with them was the Rev Juliet Stephenson, who has relocated to Liverpool from Newcastle.
She said: “We stood on the quayside in Gateshead on a snowy, cold day exactly one year ago surrounded by many friends, some of them are sadly not with us any more.
“Today, we’re in Llandudno on this beautiful day having a fabulous time eating pancakes and sharing the message of what Daft as a Brush means to everyone who is passing.
“I’m so pleased to be here today, to support Brian’s walk and everyone who can be with him on this huge challenge.”
Brian set up Daft as a Brush in 2010 after selling the family home, Doxford Hall, and ploughing the proceeds into the charity, which transports outpatients, free of charge, to and from hospital for chemotherapy and radiotherapy cancer treatment in its distinctive ambulances.
He said: “Each year we transport 40,000 cancer patients from their homes to and from hospital who require chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy cancer treatment.
“If we can replicate what we do in the North East all over Great Britain and Ireland, we could help so many patients on their journey to recovery.”
Walking up to 20 miles a day is a punishing challenge for Brian, who also deals with the effects of Parkinson’s disease.
But he is determined to complete the epic journey to take the charity nationwide and create one million free cancer patient journeys.
The object is to promote the creation of Daft as a Brush hubs, by way of raising awareness of the charity’s work and the provision of support, both financial and administrative, to those who want to set up and operate Daft as a Brush services in new areas.
Along the way, he has had meetings at major cancer centres throughout Scotland and Cumbria and is excited about forthcoming meetings.
“We have appointments with oncologists and medical teams in Liverpool and Wales in the near future to discuss the possibility of the Daft as a Brush transport service operating in these areas,” he said.
With 4,000 miles to go, Brian’s next stop is Dublin as he begins a six-month trek around the island of Ireland.
Everything from food to fuel on the walk is funded privately by Brian, meaning every penny donated goes directly to the charity to bring free cancer patient transport all over Great Britain and Ireland.
Donations can be made on board Bluebell, to the walking team on-route and via the Virgin Money Giving page.
There is also a collection area at Daft as a Brush House in Gosforth. Cheques and postal donations can be sent to Daft as a Brush House, Great North Road, Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE3 2DR. Make donations payable to Daft as a Brush Coastal Path Walk.
Follow Brian, Cheryl and Bluebell and discover more at www.bluebellbus.org.uk