Belfast Telegraph

Parkinson's no bar to OAP as epic 7,000-mile trek at halfway point

Brian Burnie
Brian Burnie

By Gillian Halliday

A former millionaire suffering from Parkinson's disease has reached the halfway point of an extraordinary walk to help cancer patients.

Brian Burnie (74) has clocked up 3,502 miles after leaving his starting point in Gateshead near Newcastle 14 months ago.

He has now arrived in Northern Ireland.

Accompanied by wife Cheryl, the Englishman is walking between 15 and 20 miles a day to highlight the need for free transport for cancer patients. At night they sleep in their converted double decker bus, 'Bluebell'.

The philanthropist gave away his fortune to establish the charity Daft As A Brush Cancer Patient Care in the north of England in 2010. It transports outpatients to and from hospital without charge.

Now Brian, who will walk 1,700 miles across Ireland over the next five months before taking his challenge back across the Irish Sea to north Wales, wants to make his charity a nationwide one.

Yesterday he was delighted to have reached Ballycastle in Co Antrim - the midway milestone in his epic walk - after meeting health professionals in Belfast at the City Hopsital Cancer Centre to discuss his charity.

Brian and Cheryl have also visited the North West Cancer Centre in Londonderry since arriving here.

"It's such a beautiful area," he said.

"From the Baltic in Gateshead to Ballycastle, I've had the pleasure of meeting so many incredible people, some far from home who've had first-hand experience with cancer and the daily difficulties getting to and from hospital."

Cheryl said she was in awe of her husband for taking on the challenge, particularly with his health condition.

"Walking 15 to 20 miles a day would be a testing trial for anyone, but Brian is coping with Parkinson's disease," she said.

"It is common to become easily tired during walking... but he is so determined to complete his 7,000-mile mission, I am so very proud of him."

More information about Brian's journey can be found at www.bluebellbus.org.uk.

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