The Brian Burnie
'Daft as a Brush' story so far.......
I think people will remember the speech the American Civil Rights Leader the Rev Martin Luther King gave in Washington and his now famous quote from that speech “I HAVE A DREAM TODAY”. Like many people throughout the world they also have “a dream today”.
This is a story about my dream and with the help and assistance of our team of volunteers we will make the dream become a reality for transporting, free of charge, fifty thousand cancer patients each year.
Back in 2009, when it was decided to sell the family home Doxford Hall in Northumberland including the recently constructed Doxford Hall Hotel and Spa it was no surprise that from the proceeds of the sale it was to be donated to cancer care and specifically to transport, free of charge, cancer patients that were undergoing in hospital either chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy treatment.
The start of fulfilling “the Dream” an office base to work from was essential and, to my astonishment, Newcastle Building Society very kindly provided the charity with an office suite in Hood Street complete with furniture. The help, assistance and support of the Directors and staff has been absolutely magnificent.
Right in the centre of Newcastle, the office doorway is between Vivienne Westwood’s shop and the Newcastle Building Society Branch office in Hood Street and we are on the first floor. Public transport to the offices via buses to the old Odeon Cinema in Pilgrim Street or the Metro to Monument Station both approximately 100 yards. By car the multi storey car parks are at either Manors at 50p per hour or Dean Street £1.10 per hour.
Each of the brand new seven seater people carriers that will be used to transport cancer patients will be adopted by primary schools from across the region. I am pleased to say that the first school to take part is Shaftoe Trust School in Haydon Bridge. The Head Teacher, Mrs Audrey Cox, is very excited with the work the pupils will be undertaking for Daft as a Brush. In September I visited the school and gave a talk and showed the children an illustration of the Daft as a Brush characters and the vehicle which they will be adopting. From the smiles on their faces I think they enjoyed the presentation. Both the Newcastle Journal and Hexham Courant were there to record the visit. As part of their project the school will be designing artwork for the outside of the vehicle and they will also be producing a booklet about the school, pupils and the Daft as a Brush project etc. which will make, I am sure, interesting reading for all those who travel in their people carrier. Additional copies of the booklet will be available for those patients who wish to take a copy home. It is hoped that the school, in preparation for Christmas 2011, will create and produce Christmas cards that would be sent to all cancer treatment patients who have travelled in their vehicle in the past twelve months.
Langley First School, West Monkseaton near Whitley Bay and Stocksfield Avenue School, Fenham, Newcastle are the second and third schools that will be adopting patient people carriers.
Where did the name Daft as a Brush come from?
It goes back to my early childhood in the 1940’s/50’s in Newcastle upon Tyne when I remember my mother describing a man that lived in our street (Brough Street) as being daft as a brush. It was a complimentary comment in that he was albeit (“a bit of a scatter brain”) kind, helpful and never had a wrong word for anybody – always had a big smile on his face. As cancer is an absolutely horrible disease I thought, by using the words daft as a brush in it's name, it might just bring a smile to the faces of all those volunteers helping with the patients on their journey to recovery.
Camera, action !
It would seem that everybody I speak to recently wants to help and get involved and so it has come to the attention of the BBC in London. This has resulted in the One Show commissioning CTVC based in London to make a series of films for the One Show. They will be showing the Burnie family moving out of Doxford Hall into a small terraced house in Oldgate, Morpeth. The development and growth of Daft as a Brush from nothing to getting into a position in March 2011 of transporting the first cancer patients in trial journeys from Tynedale to the Freeman Hospital to then creating a structure and organisation that in the future is in a position to transport, in comfort and safety, fifty thousand patients per year (1,000 per week).
Whilst making the films I have to say Wendy Robbins, the television producer from London, is a super lady to work with and I think she has caught the Daft as a Brush “Bug” and I have no doubt that when she returns to London she will be telling all her friends what very special people they are in the North East of England and that’s not to mention the “Craster kippers” they took home. The first two films were shown in October and November 2010, with an additional films in December 2010 and March 2011.