Brian Burnie is the trustee and founder of Daft as a Brush Cancer Patient Care, a charity set up to provide a free transport service to and from hospital for outpatients undergoing cancer treatment. The local hero is renowned in the region and beyond for his hard work, dedication and passion to such a worthy cause. We check in to get the lowdown and find out his luxe things in life…
Getting to know you…
Trustee and founder of Daft as a Brush Cancer Patient Care
Where is home?
Home is Newcastle – in an apartment above the charity’s office.
Three reasons you love where you live?
I love where I live because residing on-site means that I am always available for the volunteers and staff – plus, there’s never any traffic issues when I’m commuting downstairs! I also thoroughly enjoy the views over the City of Newcastle Golf Club.
The day job…
What do you do for a living?
Manage the cancer charity, Daft as a BrushCancer Patient Care.
A day in the life of you?
There’s definitely no such thing as an average day at Daft as a Brush – I could be hosting a volunteer’s meeting, in consultation with the directors of the Freeman Hospital, discussing events and the expansion of our free transport service for cancer patients. The day slows from 7pm, I retire early so my next day starts from 6am, seven days a week. It’s a very busy yet very rewarding schedule and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Any recent, ongoing or upcoming projects or achievements we should know about?
I am thrilled that our ‘Last Night of the Proms’ concert is going ahead this October. We’re planning a fantastic evening at Newcastle City Hall and should we fill all 2,000 seats, the revenue will pay for our 100th cancer patient ambulance – that would be such a moving achievement.
What does downtime mean to you?
I am passionate about the charity – working seven days is a pleasure – however, I do enjoy walking. In 2020 I completed a 7,036 mile hike around the coast of England and Ireland. During the pandemic I was forced to stop at Torquay and made up the miles walking locally. I would very much like to start my walk again from the south coast back to the North East. Walking is also good therapy for my Parkinson’s disease, so I guess you could say this is my ‘downtime’.
Lessons in life…
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I followed my passion for engineering and construction. With the support of my family and later in life, mentor William Leech, I was lucky to fulfil my dreams.
What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
Life is far too short, always leave people on good terms.
What is your greatest fear?
Becoming too poorly to work.
Which living person do you most admire and why?
My good friend, Sir John Hall. His vision and business acumen has supported the North East for decades.
What is top of your bucket list?
To take the charity nationwide and create 1,000,000 free cancer patient journeys.
What is your most treasured possession?
What does the weekend mean to you?
I am a workaholic! Weekends present an opportunity to achieve more without the phones ringing.
A memorable holiday?
Walking the Pennine Way with my children.
Who would be your top three dinner guests?
Margaret Thatcher, Arthur Scargill and Boris Johnson.
The last place you ate?
The Three Mile Inn.
The last book you read?
Len Gibson, ‘A Wearside lad in World War II’.
The last thing you listened to?
The last thing you watched?
Michael Portillo Railway Journeys.
Your three luxe things in life?
Good health, friendship and not being a bore!