A CHARITY to help cancer patients in Northumberland held a colourful city launch event.
Brian Burnie spent 16 years and £16million renovating Doxford Hall, near Chathill in North Northumberland, but he decided to sell the multi-million pound venue and donate all the proceeds to Daft as a Brush Cancer Care.
Work has been on-going to put in place a fleet of custom-made vehicles, which will transport cancer patients from the county between their home and north east hospitals, and fund-raising activities have been taking place to help with costs.
With the first two ready for action, an official launch was held last week at the Newcastle Monument with more than 300 schoolchildren, Chelsea Pensioners and Pearly Queens Phyllis Broadbent and Jackie Murphy among those who attended.
Mr Burnie and wife Shirley moved to Oldgate in Morpeth after selling Doxford Hall, before getting a house in Longframlington.
And he visited All Saints First School in Lancaster Park to talk about his charity. Now the school is decorating and naming one of the vehicles, and pupils attended the launch event and did some singing.
Mr Burnie said: “It was a glorious day and it’s great to have a good news story when there are so many bad ones around at the moment.
“The All Saints pupils have been fantastic and at the launch they were well-behaved and sang very well. I look forward to seeing their van soon.
“The icing on the cake was picking up our first cancer patient the next day and now our focus is getting the full fleet of 25 vehicles up and running.”
Cameras from BBC’s The One Show were also present.
All Saints Headteacher Pauline Molloy said: “There were many good ideas to name one of the vehicles. We narrowed them down to six, held a secret ballot and Rainbow was the winner. We have got the artwork ready to go and the vehicle will be ready for action in April.
“Our children thoroughly enjoyed the launch event and the presence of television cameras got them very excited. Brian is a very charismatic man and I can see this charity becoming a big success.”
Mr Burnie is on the lookout for more volunteer drivers. For information about the role, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org