The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation has teamed up with another local charity, Daft as a Brush, Cancer Patient Care, to jointly fund a new cancer patient ambulance.
The ambulance will transport patients from across the North East and Cumbria, free of charge, to use services at the Northern Centre for Cancer Care at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle.
It is one of a fleet of 13 Daft as a Brush ambulances and has been ‘adopted’ by pupils at High Spen Primary School in County Durham who have named it Reach for the Stars.
Lady Elsie Robson and Brian Burnie, Daft as a Brush Trustee, visited the school to thank the pupils for their support and enthusiasm. It was also a chance for everyone to see the new ambulance, which features artwork by Marianne Murphy, aged 9, a Year 4 pupil at the school.
Brian Burnie says: “It was a very pleasant and moving day in the sun. Wonderful seeing all the children around the ambulance and the enthusiasm to see their ambulance in the school yard.”
The Daft as a Brush ambulances have been running since March 2011. Driven by a team of dedicated volunteers, they collect cancer patients from their homes and drop them off at the door of the Northern Centre for Cancer Care.
Lady Elsie says: “We were very pleased to be able to jointly fund this new ambulance.
“When you’re ill, the last thing you want to worry about is transport to and from the hospital for treatment and Daft as a Brush provide a hugely valuable service for cancer patients across the north east.
“We had a hard time picking a name from those thought up by the High Spen pupils. There were so many wonderful ideas. In the end, we chose Reach for the Stars because it seemed appropriate given everything we’re been able to achieve through Bob’s Foundation.
“And we’re very grateful for the fantastic support we continue to receive which means we’ll be able to do so much more in the future too.
“I had a very enjoyable morning at High Spen Primary and it was good to see the new ambulance all ready to go. In fact, we were told it was going straight from the school to collect patients, which was good to hear.”
The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation contributed £7,500 to help fund the ambulance and was greatly appreciated by all those working at the cancer charity. It costs over £300,000 per year to run the Daft as a Brush service, which is funded entirely from voluntary contributions.
Andrew Firth, head teacher at High Spen Primary School, says: “We were delighted to welcome Lady Elsie and the Daft as a Brush team to High Spen this morning. The children are rightly proud that their art work will soon be brightening the day of ‘Very Important Patients’ around the north east.
“Unfortunately, like many schools, High Spen has been hit by cancer in the past. Sadly we are all too aware of the devastation it brings. Through adopting our own ambulance, ‘Reach for the Stars’, our children have been allowed to feel they really can have a positive impact on the wider community.
“Our school motto ‘Looking out for each other’ has been amended for the purposes of the ambulance to ‘Looking out for everyone’. We soon hope to see the amazing group of Daft as a Brush volunteers using the High Spen ambulance to make the life of people facing tough treatments a little easier.”