Pensioner, 75, walking thousands of miles to bring free cancer care to patients in South West

PUBLISHED: 17:55 18 February 2020

Brian Burnie and his wife Cheryl passed through Weston on their 7,000-mile walk around the coast of the UK and Ireland.    Picture: MARK ATHERTON

Brian Burnie and his wife Cheryl passed through Weston on their 7,000-mile walk around the coast of the UK and Ireland. Picture: MARK ATHERTON

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A pensioner has embarked on a trek across the UK and Ireland to set up free cancer patient care nationwide.

Brian Burnie passed through Weston on his 7,000-mile walk around the coast of the UK and Ireland.    Picture: MARK ATHERTONBrian Burnie passed through Weston on his 7,000-mile walk around the coast of the UK and Ireland. Picture: MARK ATHERTON

Brian Burnie is on a 7,000-mile walking odyssey for the charity he founded, Daft As A Brush.

He is undertaking the epic walk to visit and encourage other NHS Trusts to adopt his charity's cancer patient care scheme, which transports patients who are undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy to and from hospital.

The scheme transports 45,000 patients a year with a team of more than 350 volunteers and a fleet of 30 ambulances.

Brian Burnie passed through Weston on his 7,000-mile walk around the coast of the UK and Ireland.    Picture: MARK ATHERTONBrian Burnie passed through Weston on his 7,000-mile walk around the coast of the UK and Ireland. Picture: MARK ATHERTON

By replicating the service across the UK and Ireland, Brian is convinced his dream of creating one million cancer patient journeys will become a reality.

Brian, aged 75 and from the North East, also suffers from Parkinson's Disease and has walked up to 20 miles each day, five days a week for the past two years alongside his wife Cheryl.

He said: "It's clear there is a need for the service all over the country.

Brian Burnie passed through Weston on his 7,000-mile walk around the coast of the UK and Ireland.    Picture: MARK ATHERTONBrian Burnie passed through Weston on his 7,000-mile walk around the coast of the UK and Ireland. Picture: MARK ATHERTON

"So many patients have the same issues getting to and from hospital on a daily basis.

"Many live on their own, I would hate to know how many patients decline treatment because of the stress, anxiety and difficulties they experience."

He passed through Weston earlier this month, and walking from Anglesey and the Wales coast path, notched up 4,609 miles.

Brian in Cardiff. Picture: Dave HarrisonBrian in Cardiff. Picture: Dave Harrison

Brian admits the encouragement from people he has met, and from back home, is motivating.

He added: "Yes, on occasion I've thought it may have been be too ambitious for me, but when I talk to complete strangers about what I want to achieve, the uplifting words, handshakes and smiles I receive are heartening.

"It really keeps me going when times are tough and the weather has been against me and slowed my progress, but Cheryl and I
are determined to complete the trek.

Brian walking in St Davids. Picture: Dave HarrisonBrian walking in St Davids. Picture: Dave Harrison

"The reaction from hospital staff, oncologists and radiographers has been unbelievable, everyone loves what we do in the North East.

"I am so excited at the idea of bringing the Daft As A Brush service to the South West region."

The couple estimate to be back in the North East for Christmas 2020.

Brian at Severn Bridge. Picture: Dave HarrisonBrian at Severn Bridge. Picture: Dave Harrison

To learn more about the charity, log on to www.daftasabrush.org.uk


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