Banquet guests go daft for charity cause

Lion John Gray, Lion President Richard Nash, Anne Gray and Tom Watson (DaaB) with the event cheque.
Lion John Gray, Lion President Richard Nash, Anne Gray and Tom Watson (DaaB) with the event cheque.

Morpeth Lions

At what has become an annual fixture in the calendar, 100 guests recently sat down to enjoy the Morpeth Lions Club Chinese Charity Banquet at the Mulan Restaurant in Morpeth.

This event originally started just after the 2008 floods, which had affected the then recently opened restaurant.

In a gesture of sympathy for all those more drastically affected, the owner Kevin Liu allowed two fund-raising banquets to take place. Together, these raised more than £2,000.

Over the years the Lions Club has been able to hold banquets to raise funds for its many Christmas activities, as well as the Lion President’s designated charity.

This year Lion President Richard Nash has chosen Daft as a Brush Cancer Patient Care (DaaB) as his charity.

Such is the popularity of these charity banquet evenings that organisers Lions Les Sage and David Armstrong had little difficulty in selling the tickets — in fact, it was a full house.

During the evening, Anne Gray, who is a companion for Daft as a Brush, explained how the charity operates.

She and her husband, Lion John, together with many other drivers and companions, will collect cancer outpatients and take them to the Freeman or RVI Hospitals in Newcastle. This can be from as far afield as the Scottish Borders, North Yorkshire, and even West Cumbria.

Founded by Brian Burnie, the fleet of Daft as a Brush ambulances has mushroomed thanks to generous donations from the public and businesses; the latest having been given by retailer Marks and Spencer.

From the beginning, schools have been involved in the scheme, and the names of those schools taking part can be seen on the cheery, bright blue ambulances, which also bear the name chosen for the vehicle and a large cartoon brush.

Anne also mentioned how much of a lifeline the ambulances are to the people they serve.

Often when a patient is given the news that they have cancer, one of the first questions they ask is: “How will I get to hospital for treatment?”

Daft as a Brush can give the re-assurance they need.

And with regular drivers and companions picking the patients up, they all become good friends, sharing laughter and tears.

Brian Burnie is currently on a 7,000-mile journey visiting hospitals across the UK in the hope that the Daft as a Brush Cancer Patient Care system will spread throughout the land.

Anyone wishing to help, or to find out more about Daft as a Brush, can telephone 0191 285 5999. Alternatively, visit the charity’s website at www.daftasabrush.org.uk

Lion President Richard Nash thanked Anne for her heartfelt presentation.

He said: “The Morpeth Lions Club thanks everyone who has been involved in this wonderful evening — our guests for supporting us, Mulan and its staff for the excellent food and service, the businesses and individuals who so generously donated raffle prizes and Lions Les and David for organising the event.

“I am delighted to be able to present a cheque for £500 to Daft as a Brush from this evening’s event.”

Many of the guests are already looking forward to next year’s event.