In 2006, Brian Burnie hosted a traditional fish and chip lunch at his home in Doxford Hall in Northumberland for thousands of ex-servicemen and their families. The RAF helped bring in 2,500 portions offish and chips (estimated to be 1.4 tonnes) from Seahouses village, five miles away, to feed former PoWs, veterans and their families and other guests at the free VJ-Day party. A short film about the VJ-Day party is here: https://vimeo.com/423524711
For the last two years, Brian has been on an epic 7,000 mile walk round the coast of Great Britain and Ireland; his mission is to take what the charity does in the North-East nationwide. His dream is to create 1,000,000 cancer patient journeys, free of charge. Along with his wife Cheryl, they’ve been living in a double-decker bus called Bluebell. Another short film detailing the walk through Wales is available at: https://vimeo.com/391458042.
The Covid crisis, however, put a stop to their walk after 5,126 miles,completed as far as Devon. Brian is now back in the North-East, walking circuits of his garden and the neighbouring golf course to clock-up the equivalent miles he would have covered back to the region. He’s aiming to complete the distance from Torquay to Teesside on 15th August 2020 – VJ Day 75. Another short film about his alternative walking is at: https://vimeo.com/420224908.
On Saturday 15th August 2020, Brian hosted another VJ Day event with special guests; 100 year old Mr Len Gibson served in the 125th Anti-Tank Regiment of the Royal Artillery and was shipped out the Singapore in 1942. He was be the guest of honour on the day.
Len was presented with his British Empire Medal in 2019 by the Lord Lieutenant for Tyne and Wear, Mrs Sue Winfield OBE. Brian is delighted Mrs Winfield was present on the day with Deputy Lieutenant Major Eric Ingram, the Lord Mayor of Newcastle, Cllr David Cook and special guests including the Bishop of Newcastle, Mrs Christine Hardman, world-record ocean rower Phil Kite and charity supporters whose family served in the Far East.
Brian is thrilled: “It’s a real privilege to welcome Mr. Gibson to Daft as a Brush in Gosforth, I am delighted he walked the last few yards with me on my walk back into the North East. To be with him and such special guests on VJ Day, is really quite moving, it’s an honour.”
Brian and his wife Cheryl will return to the South Coast late August to collect their mobile home. Their double-decker bus called ‘Bluebell’ was left behind at the Stagecoach Depot in Plymouth when Covid-19 forced the couples urgent return.
They will begin the very last leg of the 7,000 mile charity walk from James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough on Saturday 12th September, walking 5/6 miles per day back to the Baltic in Gateshead on 23rd September, where it all started on 5th March 2018. Can you join them?