Page last updated at 15:13 GMT, Thursday, 14 May 2009 16:13 UK

Millionaire gives away his estate

Doxford Hall
Mr Burnie bought Doxford Hall in 1993

A Northumberland millionaire is selling his £16m country estate and giving every penny of the proceeds to charity.

Brian Burnie is open to offers for the Doxford Hall Hotel and its 10 acre estate near Alnwick.

He hopes to use the profits from the sale to establish and pay for a Macmillan cancer nurse for north Northumberland.

The 64-year-old also hopes to pay for a set of custom-made vehicles to take cancer patients to and from hospitals.

Mr Burnie said: "We live in a me, me, me society and it has always been important to me to think of others.

"We can all do something by leaving money to charity when we die, but why don't we do something while we are still living?"

Writing out the cheque is the easy bit - its actually getting off your jacket and helping the cause you want to support that is the hard part
Brian Burnie

Father-of-three Mr Burnie said he and his wife Shirley - a breast cancer survivor - would live on their private pension when the estate was sold.

He said: "We won't exactly be selling the Big Issue but we will be downsizing.

"I've done the stately home bit - the bricks and mortar - but I've always been a people person.

"To be able to do something to help people has a much bigger return than any financial gain."

The Newcastle-born millionaire joked he "went to school in Heaton and not Eton".

'Millionaires in kindness'

He said: "You are what your parents are and you should never forget your roots - we were millionaires in kindness, not money.

"Writing out the cheque is the easy bit - it's actually getting off your jacket and helping the cause you want to support that is the hard part."

Mr Burnie began his working life as a 15-year-old grocery delivery boy before beginning a student apprenticeship for builders John Laing.

He progressed to become a trained engineer before moving into management - firstly in the building industry then in petrochemicals.

In 1979, Mr Burnie and a partner started investment company Kelburn Holdings in Newcastle before later moving into recruitment.

Brightly coloured vehicles

This all led to Mr Burnie and his wife buying Doxford Hall from Northumberland County Council in 1993.

It is now a 25-bedroom hotel and spa complex which also hosts conferences and weddings.

Mr Burnie said he will call the transport service Daft As A Brush and will use brightly coloured vehicles.

Mr and Mrs Burnie have been contributing to charity for the last 40 years, supporting various cancer charities, inviting war veterans to their home for meals and opening their door to the less fortunate on Christmas Day.

A spokeswoman for Macmillan Cancer Trust said: "We are hoping to meet with Mr Burnie next week to discuss his plans and look forward to working with him to help people affected by cancer in Northumberland."

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