Millionaire who gave away £16million and his 30-year marriage
by James O’Toole
Brian Burnie’s £16million give-away to charity has cost him his 30-year marriage.
In 2009, the multi-millionaire sold their 10-acre luxury estate Doxford Hall, complete with spa and hotel boasting a swimming pool and manicured lawns, auctioned his family belongings and gave 16 million pounds he raised to his charity, Daft As A Brush, to fund a cancer nurse and a fleet of cars to ferry patients from rural areas to hospital appointments.
After giving away his entire fortune, Mr. Burnie had to move his family into a tiny rented terrace house in nearby Morpeth, Northumberland, UK, opposite a council estate.
Brian Burnie‘s extra-ordinary benevolence started after his beloved wife of almost 30 years, Shirley, 66, made full recovery from breast cancer. Mr Burnie was so grateful that he decided to dedicate his entire life to helping women with breast cancer. It then became an addiction.
Shirley was not particularly happy with the sudden and drastic changes in their lifestyle. The couple eventually divorced in 2012, after Shirley became fed up with his addiction to giving away everything the family had owned.
Shirley said: “It took over his life, becoming more important than anything else to him. I said to him often that we had other things to consider, but his top three priorities were the charity, the charity and the charity.
“I didn’t intend to have to beat cancer and then spend the rest of my life living in a house like this and doing everything for everyone else. I’m sick of bloody charity and the hard work – we all are. I didn’t want to give everything away. We needed a home and an income and we have three children. I wanted security for us and our family.”
Brian Burnie’s £16million give-away to charity has cost him his 30-year-old marriage.
But the 70-year-old Burnie has no regrets losing his 30-year-old marriage so far he continues to do what he loves dearly – giving to charity. “We acquired the lifestyle, Doxford Hall, we lived very well, but nothing gave me as much pleasure as giving it all away.
“We live in a me, me, me society. And it has always been important to me to think of others. Money is not as important as people.”
The former recruitment firm boss now lives off his pension and alone in a small flat, and drives a battered Ford Fiesta.
When ask if he has kept anything for himself, he replies: “Nothing. I live off my pension, even that goes to the charity when I die.”