Dave Brown has already raised an amazing amount of money for Royal Papworth Hospital by dying his hair differently every day for four weeks. This year, he is taking on an even bigger challenge! In May 2019, to mark the opening of our brand new Hospital at the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, Dave is going to walk from our current hospital in Papworth to the new Hospital.

Dave explains why Papworth means so much to him and what has spurred him on to want to fundraise for the Charity:

"Royal Papworth is very special to me. In January 2014 they performed a life saving, single lung transplant on my wife when she had just weeks left to live. She had suffered from lung fibrosis for fifteen years and her health gradually deteriorated over that time. In 2012 she started needing a wheelchair for the first time and in 2013 she had to go on oxygen 24 hours a day. Her consultant at our local hospital referred her to Papworth around Easter 2013 and after her assessment she got put on the waiting list for a single lung. By Christmas 2013 she was only able to walk about ten metres and we prepared for the worst. Just over two weeks later she was so happy to receive the phone call about the gift of a transplant. We will always be grateful to her donor and their family.

 After her transplant I spent several weeks staying in a bedsit near the hospital. During this time, I discovered the Papworth Hospital Charity office and set about planning what I could do to raise money for them. In the autumn of 2014 I came up with the idea of getting my hair dyed differently every week for four weeks. I went to our local technical college and they were very happy to help. My only conditions were that each week should be more flamboyant than the previous week and I wanted the charity’s logo on the side of my head in the last week. 

We dropped our son off at university when I had the five stripes, so I was easily the most embarrassing parent. I raised just short of £5000 when all I really did was have my hair washed a few times.

Since then we moved to Cambridgeshire to be closer to Royal Papworth and I started to plan my next fundraising event. When the new hospital was announced I decided to walk from the old site to the new, taking something symbolic of the old hospital with me. My initial route choice was to join the path beside the busway near Fenstanton and then into Cambridge from there. This would have been a marathon distance, but I soon found problems with it. To plan a better route I used the custom map service from Ordnance Survey. I was just able to get the old hospital site on the western edge and the new on the eastern edge. Using the map I was able to find footpaths round and over fields through Elsworth, Knapwell and Dry Drayton. From there across the blue footbridge over the A428 to Hardwick, down Madingley Road to the Backs. Then follow the Cam and Vicar's Brook down to Long Road, joining the guided busway and finishing at the new hospital for a total distance of about 18 miles.

While Dave was planning the walk, he decided he wanted to push a TB patient in a wheelchair to give it an extra special 'Papworth' touch.

I approached my local secondary school to ask if the pupils could make me a life-sized patient. The Principal liked the idea and put me in touch with the Head of Art. She was incredibly supportive from day one and together with her lunchtime art club she made my patient with a combination of papier mache, chicken wire, a wooden spine and stuffed tights for arms and legs. I have named the patient Thomas Brown and, although the name is fictitious, he represents all the former TB patients, many of whose descendants still live in Papworth village.

Finally I decided I needed to be dressed as the hospital founder Sir Pendrill Varrier-Jones. The only other thing I had to do was grow a moustache and I was ready. My walk has had to be postponed twice due to the delays with the building, but everything is now ready to go ahead. The new hospital opens next Spring and I plan to do my walk on Friday 31st May, during the summer half term."

Thanks to Royal Papworth my wife has been able to attend our daughter’s wedding and see our son leave for university. Both of these things seemed impossible just a few years ago. We both feel the years post transplant have been the best of our lives. Surviving a major illness changes your perspective on life and we enjoy each day as it comes.


Every day three people die in the UK waiting for a transplant. There are six hospitals in the country that perform adult heart transplants and just five that perform lung transplants.