From Brian Burnie, the Founder. COMMUNITY SPIRIT – it goes back to my early childhood in the 1940’s/50’s coming from a humble background in the east end of Newcastle upon Tyne.
As a child I always remember my mother and father saying that it was “BETTER TO GIVE THAN TO RECEIVE”. Some 70 years later that’s still very true today, albeit not in monetary terms, but it never ceases to amaze me how much one gets out of charitable work.
Having been involved in a whole host of charitable good causes since the 1960’s, it was in the late 1980’s that I decided to formalise this and the charity was established. This enabled the companies I owned to fund the work of the charity. Probably the most notable project undertaken was to pay for a doctor at the Freeman Hospital’s Children’s Heart Unit.
In 2010 the proceeds of the sale of Doxford Hall were given to the charity and the Memorandums and Articles of Association were changed to that of only being involved in the transportation of cancer patients and renamed Daft as a Brush Cancer Patient Care.
The charity was initially established in an office in Newcastle city centre; later in September 2012 it purchased the freehold interest of an office in Gosforth (with ample parking for ambulances), which was later named Daft as a Brush House. During this period operational staff were required and therefore Steve Watson, Catherine Henderson and Peter Stoten were recruited. In addition Professor Sir Alan Craft, Emma Glover and Leslie Caisley all kindly agreed to become trustees.
To date the charity has a fleet of 20 ambulances, 18 of which have been adopted by primary schools from across the region and 2 by the Great North Children’s Hospital. Over 250 volunteers are employed as ambulance drivers/companions; staffing the information desk at the Freeman Hospital, the shop in Eldon Garden and at Daft as a Brush House. However, the charity still requires more volunteers so why not apply on-line or download an application form.
The charity, Daft as a Brush Cancer Patient Care, provides a free transport service to and from the Freeman/RVI Hospitals for outpatients undergoing chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy treatment – some from as far afield as the Scottish Borders, North Yorkshire and West Cumbria.
In 2015 over 15,000 cancer patient journeys were only made possible by the dedication and service of the magnificent team of volunteers and staff from the Northern Centre for Cancer Care.
A recent new development with the Great North Children’s Hospital based at the RVI was the purchase of an ambulance with special seating arrangements permitting children of all ages, plus their parents, to be transported safely to and from hospital.
Hopefully, over the next year or so, by using the concept of early integration of proposed planned treatment and transportation of patients, this would be a huge step forward and when implemented could enable the charity to double the amount of patient journeys, all to the benefit of both the patients and the NHS.
Using a line from Reverend Martin Luther King’s speech “I HAVE A DREAM TODAY” – in the not too distant future this charity will be involved in 100,000 cancer patient journeys a year.
Brian Burnie – Trustee and Founder: Daft as a Brush Cancer Patient Care