AN old double-decker bus has been given a new lease of life and will be helping to raise millions of pounds for a cancer charity.

Stagecoach North East’s retired bus, named Bluebell, will be hitting the roads to raise money for Daft as a Brush (DAAB) after the local bus operator donated it to the cancer transport service last year.

Bluebell Bus has undergone a 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 across Tyne and Wear, including Durham.

Mr Burnie and members of the DAAB charity have embarked on a 7,000 mile trek to promote the charity.

The tour will take an estimated two years and will include visits to cancer hospitals and schools along the route.

The aim is to 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 the service in new areas.

Gary Chisholm, Operations Director at Stagecoach North East, which has its head office in Sunderland, 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.”