Daft as a Brush
Provider of transport services for cancer patients
Full Name: Daft as a Brush Cancer Patient Care Charitable Trust
Headquarters: Newcastle, NE3 2DR
Charity No.: 328432
History and Activities
North East businessman Brian Burnie has been involved in philanthropy for the greater part of his life. In 1989 he established his own charity and channelled part of the profits from his business ventures into it, supporting good causes such as the Children’s Heart Unit at the Freeman Hospital.
The 2010 Brian took the decisive step of selling his spa hotel and gardens, Doxford Hall, for £16 million, to support his charitable ambitions. His charity was renamed Daft as a Brush and focused on providing a free transport service, in custom-made vehicles, to and from the Freeman and Royal Victoria Infirmary Hospitals in Newcastle for outpatients undergoing chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy treatment. The service extends beyond the North East as patients frequently come from more distant localities such as the Scottish Borders, North Yorkshire and West Cumbria. Looking after patients in this way greatly reduces the stresses and strains on patients and families, improving the quality of their lives and potentially the efficacy of their treatment.
In 2012, Daft as a Brush purchased its head office in Gosforth, which has ample parking space for its 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 300 volunteers are employed as ambulance drivers, companions, information desk receptionists at the Freeman Hospital, salespeople in the charity shop in Eldon Gardens, and in support roles at Daft as a Brush House. A total of 15,000 cancer patient journeys were made in 2015.
The ambition of the charity is to expand the scale and scope of its activities to 100,000 patient journeys a year within a few years. Active fundraising is vital to this endeavour, and Daft as a Brush has responded imaginatively with fundraising events such as its Last Night of the Proms concert at City Hall. In January 2018 Brian Burnie set out to walk 7,000 miles around the coastal paths of Britain to raise £4 million, and to show how the Daft as Brush service might be replicated nationally.
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