Anniversary Appointment of Marino Franchitti to Richard Burns Foundation

 It is ten years since Richard Burns claimed his World Rally Championship title, and exactly six years since his untimely demise following a battle with brain cancer. To mark this anniversary, the Richard Burns Foundation is delighted to announce that Marino Franchitti, the sports car ace and close friend of Richard’s, will join the Foundation as a patron to help drive the charity’s mission forward. Marino joins an august list of patrons who are all committed to assist the charity in Richard’s memory, and include Jason Plato, Robert Reid, Marcus Gronholm, Guy Wilkes, & Markko Martin. On joining the Foundation, resplendent in a Paint It Orange t-shirt, Marino said, “The amazing collective response from our sport in the lead-up to the anniversary of Richard’s and Robert’s greatest achievement – and of course, far more poignantly, of Richard’s premature death – has been amazing and there couldn’t be a more perfect time to throw my energies behind the charity that acts in Richard’s name. He was first and foremost a great friend and from that perspective, it is very important to me that his name continues to stand for something positive and enduring. I am deeply touched and honoured to be asked to represent the Foundation”.Over the past fortnight, the Foundation has been overwhelmed with the generous and endless help, support and assistance received from every quarter of motor racing, from fans to teams, from drivers to sponsors and more beyond. On behalf of all Patrons and Trustees, the Foundation wishes to say a profound ‘thank you’ to all those that have helped in many different ways.In the past fortnight, the public have offered unparalleled support with the purchase of thousands of commemorative Paint It Orange t-shirt, bolstered by the universal support of drivers from the WRC and Formula One, as well as a cast-list of celebrities. (Today is the last day that the Paint It Orange t-shirts will be available for sale here before being withdrawn.)The Foundation’s supporters have also contributed a remarkable and diverse range of invaluable items to help fundraise, from the donation of car livery for auction by the FERM Power Tools WRC Team to the four figure sums raised by the auction of a visit to the auspicious McLaren Technology Centre and the HQ of 2011 World Champions, Red Bull Racing, the scarcity of other remarkable auction lots such as driver-signed Mercedes GP rear wing endplates, the gloves that Sebastian Ogier wore to victory on Rally France and a signed helmet from his Citröen team-mate, Sebastian Loeb, and in the last few weeks of a long career at McLaren, Pedro de la Rosa’s generous contribution of a pair of his race overalls in memory of the times he spent with Richard during his time in Barcelona. Not all of these remarkable items have been offered for auction, with the release of new lots to be published on the Richard Burns Foundation website and its Facebook pages.This is just a snapshot of the many generous donations that have given invaluable momentum to fund-raising and publicity for the Foundation in this tenth anniversary year.Aspiring graduate film-maker Nick Rowland helped to edit a moving film about Richard’s triumphs and his battle with cancer in the last months of his life that achieved a remarkable 136,000 views via the iRally app, with similar numbers watching the film on Youtube.While some have donated, others have been breaking into a sweat, with supporters of the charity undertaking a bewildering array of endeavours from running the original route of the Marathon in Greece to an intrepid duo of ladies who are climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in three months time. But don’t feel left out! In 2012, the Foundation will be seeking competitors to contest the London Marathon, a number of half-marathon events and the BUPA London 10K. Details about these events can also be found Richard Burns Foundation website and its Facebook pages.The help and assistance of Marino Franchitti, together with the individuals and organisations that have assisted in fund raising will provide funds to help the Brain & Spine Foundation achieve an ambition of establishing a nationwide network of brain centres in the UK.Inspired by the leadership of Richard’s surgeon, Peter J Hamlyn, MB BS, BSc, MD, FRCS, FISM, who is also the Chairman of the Brain & Spine Foundation, the ambition is to help to address the startling lack of neurological provision in the UK.Given that neurological injury and illness is a bigger cause of serious disability in the UK than cancer, heart disease and diabetes put together, the paucity of neurological services in NHS is staggering. In 760 acute hospitals in the UK, only 4% have Neuro units. Over a million people – half of these children and young adults – suffer a head injury every year. Alongside neuro injury, neurological illness has an incredible diversity of manifestations, from foetal diseases such as Spina Bifida, through to conditions that afflict the young, such as Cerebral Palsy & Meningitis; the unrelenting assault from neuro conditions continues through adult life, with brain tumours about 30% as common as breast cancer. And neuro illness follows us into old age, with the widespread incidence of conditions ranging from Parkinson’s to Dementia & Alzheimer’s.Given the scale & range of neuro injury and illness and the scarcity of specialist practitioners, the Richard Burns Foundation has committed all of its charitable endeavour to support the Brain & Spine Foundation to help close this resourcing gap. The ambition is to fund the first hospital-based Brain Centre, where members of public can access walk-in support and advice from specialist neurological nurses who can provide guidance for the array of neurological conditions from MS, Motor Neurone Disease & Schizophrenia to Autism and stroke, to name but a few.