The inspiration for the Burnaby Blue Foundation came from a unique individual, Colonel Frederick Gustavus Burnaby. An army officer in the Royal Horse Guards, he was to find fame as an adventurer, journalist, balloonist, failed politician and ultimately with a heroic death deep in the Sudan.He was born in Bedford, the son of the Rev. Gustavus Andrew Burnaby of Somersby Hall, Leicestershire, and canon of Middleham in Yorkshire († 15 July 1872), by Harriet, sister of Mr. Henry Villebois of Marham House, Norfolk († 1883). He was educated at Harrow and
Finding no chance for active service, his spirit of adventure sought outlets in balloon-ascents and in travels through
In 1879 he married Elizabeth Hawkins-Whitshed, who had inherited her father's lands at
As a soldier he was fearless and also enormous in both stature and presence and he was reputed to be the strongest man in the British Army. He was reputed to have once carried a Shetland pony under each arm after a mess prank and could hold a billiards cue horizontally at its tip. He was also fluent in seven languages and possessed a vigorous and colorful prose style which has been dramatically preserved in his books.
The Burnaby Blue Foundation came about as a result of a Landrover based expedition that went to Azerbaijan in 2000. The expedition tried to recreate the footsteps of Fred Burnaby and his epic trip to Central Asia. The expedition consisted of 8 vehicles, 26 soldiers and 2 civilians. It managed to cover 11 countries including Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan. In order to get enough sponsorship for the expedition a significant amount of humanitarian work was completed on the expedition with the most involved work was carried out with the Saray orphanage in Baku. When the expedition finished Sacha Tomes decided to try and continue the work that had been started and the Burnaby Blue Foundation began.