Charity's epic trek at halfway point in Northern Ireland

The founder of a cancer charity that provides free transport to and from hospital for cancer patients, is halfway through an epic challenge that will see him walk over 7,000 miles around the coastline of the UK and Ireland.

To mark the halfway point, founder Brian Burnie called into Charles Hurst Nissan in Belfast to thank staff in person for supporting him in the grueling fund-raising trek.

From its North-East base in Newcastle, Daft as a Brush Cancer Patient Care provides a free transport service to and from the Freeman and RVI Hospitals for patients who are undergoing chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy treatment – some from as far afield as the Scottish Borders, North Yorkshire and West Cumbria.

The charity’s fleet of 30 vehicles, which have been exclusively provided by Charles Hurst parent company Lookers, have become a common sight on the North East’s roads and, as well as their colourful outward appearance, provide a less intimidating way to travel than more conventional ambulances.

Lookers agreed last year to provide Brian and his team with a support vehicle for the challenge in the shape of a Nissan Navara, which has been towing a generator, carrying water, emergency equipment and first aid supplies to help him on his journey.

The Navara’s rugged-off road credentials have allowed Brian to traverse some particularly remote terrain, particularly during his stint in Western Scotland. 

Brian has been spreading the word about the charity, with the aim of setting up regional hubs all over Great Britain and Ireland. From its base in Gosforth, Newcastle, Daft as a Brush transport over 40,000 patients each year with the help of a team of 350 volunteers.

While in Ireland, Brian will be walking from Larne to Giants Causeway over to Derry and along the coast. The walk will then continue anti-clockwise back to Dublin by mid-September.

Brian has been meeting a number of senior figures in the health sector while in Belfast, including Professor Joe O’Sullivan at Belfast City Hospital Cancer Centre.

Brian said: “We are now halfway through our challenge and it’s going fantastically well. It will have taken a whole two years when I reach my final destination at The Baltic, Gateshead in December 2020. We hope to announce the creation of Daft as a Brush Hubs, nationwide by late 2020, however, I am also highlighting the transport  issues faced by cancer patients both here in Northern Ireland and right across the UK.”

Justin Kinnear, Charles Hurst Nissan Franchise Manager, said: “Having heard about the great work that Brian and his team were doing in the North East, we were delighted that they could visit us at the halfway point of their challenge. Lookers has a long history of providing vehicles to this fantastic cause, all of which have played a big part in the North East community. We sincerely hope the team can do the same for other parts of the UK and Ireland and wish Brian the best of luck for the second half of the challenge.”

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