An old double decker bus has had a new lease of life and will be helping to raise millions of pounds for a north east cancer charity thanks to Stagecoach North East.
The retired bus, named Bluebell, will be hitting the roads of Great Britain and Ireland to raise money for the charity Daft as a Brush (DAAB) after the local bus operator donated it to the cancer transport service last year.
Since then, Bluebell Bus has undergone an amazing transformation, with the lower deck converted to become a kitchen and office and the top deck now sleeping accommodation for charity founder Brian Burnie and his team.
The charity, which runs a fleet of 26 ambulances, and is supported by over 350 volunteers, provides a free transport service to and from hospitals for outpatients undergoing chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy treatment – some from as far afield as the Scottish Borders, North Yorkshire and West Cumbria.
Brian, the Tyneside-based founder of DAAB Cancer Patient Care, and members of the DAAB charity have now embarked on a 7,000 mile trek around the coasts of Britain and Ireland to promote the charity. The tour will take an estimated two years and will include visits to cancer hospitals and schools along the route to help raise £4m, and take DAAB Cancer Patient Care nationwide with the creation of a network of hubs and the provision of support to those persons who wish to set up and operate Daft as a Brush Cancer Patient Care service in new areas.
The aim of this epic journey is to get the word out about how similar services can be managed and run locally, and therefore collectively provide one million high quality cancer patient care journeys nationally each year.
Gary Chisholm, Operations Director at Stagecoach North East, said: “We are absolutely delighted to see Bluebell Bus now fully decked out and on her maiden voyage around Great Britain and Ireland.
“Taking a bus which has retired from service and watching it transform into a home for the DAAB travelling team is fantastic and we were thrilled to be able to support the charity in this way. We wish the team the very best of luck on their journey and hope that they meet and even surpass their targets.”
Dave Harrison, Communications Manager from DAAB, said: “Stagecoach North East has been fantastic, donating the bus which has now become Bluebell, and the advice and training they have given has been invaluable.
“They have provided great support for the charity in the run up to the launch and will continue to be part of the journey, as Bluebell makes her travels around the country.”
At the grand launch at the Millennium Bridge in Newcastle, the Lord Lieutenant for Tyne and Wear, Sue Winfield OBE, Mayors from Gateshead, Newcastle, Sunderland, Durham, North Tyneside, South Tyneside and Northumberland bid bon voyage to Bluebell Bus supported by Stagecoach North East, local school children and other special guests.
As on official send off, members of the HMS Calliope Royal Naval Reserves towed Bluebell Bus for the first 20 yards to start her on the epic 7,000 mile journey.
For more information on the tour and to donate to DAAB, please visit https://www.daftasabrushbluebellbus.org.uk/ or follow on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/DAABBLUEBELLBUS/ and Twitter on https://twitter.com/bluebellbus
A video of the bus can also be viewed at https://www.facebook.com/DAABBLUEBELLBUS/videos/347655972387666/