Haines prepares for latest trek for charity

Michael Burcombe, left, and Derek Haines will trek more than 500 miles across the Pyrenees next month.

Once again, Derek Haines is going the extra mile for philanthropy.

But in this case, it’s another 538 miles.

Haines, an avid distance runner and fundraiser, is inviting the public to his final fundraiser on Thursday, 23 May, at Abacus restaurant in Camana Bay in support of his eight-week quest across the Pyrenees mountain range from Hendaye to Banyuls-sur-Mer, France, in support of the Special Needs Foundation Cayman.

The Pyrenees forms the natural border between France and Spain in southwestern Europe.

Haines, who will be walking with friend Mike Burcombe, has already raised $600,000 in conjunction with the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman, and the ultimate goal is to top $1 million to ensure inclusivity in schools and the community for people with special needs.

The Abacus fundraiser will begin at 5:30pm and continue deep into the night. Entrance will cost $25 and come with a free drink. For Haines, it’s an opportunity to meet and greet the community that has given him a leg up in his various philanthropic events over the years.

Derek Haines, pictured here in the Leicester Mercury newspaper taking part in a philanthropic activity in 1984, has been raising funds for various causes for more than three decades.

“I’ve been lucky with health and fitness. I’m 70 now,” he said. “If you can do it and raise a few dollars, then it’s worth trying. The community in Cayman has been very supportive of me over the years.”

Haines has raised more than $3 million for Cayman causes over his decades of philanthropy, and he played a starring role in raising funds for the Jasmine hospice care facility that recently opened.

For his latest endeavour, beginning in early June he will be walking along the GR 10 French footpath that runs the length of the Pyrenees, and he will climb 157,000 feet along the way. That is the equivalent of five Mount Everests, said Haines, but he made sure to note that the altitude for his trek is considerably lower than Nepal and Tibet.

The average elevation will be between 6,000 and 7,000 feet during his eight-week trek, and Haines and Burcombe expect to camp out along the path for quite a lot of it. They will begin their walks early in the morning and conclude in the early afternoon in an attempt to avoid seasonal showers.

“You can almost set your clock by it,” he said of the daily rainstorms that will punctuate his walk through the Pyrenees. “You don’t want to be marching around in the middle of it.”

The inspiration for this journey came in his early 20s, and Haines said it’s been kicking around his head the last few decades. He also said that Chris Johnson, past president of the Rotary Club, has always been keen on aiding his journeys, which could not happen without the support of the community.

Haines, who has also scaled volcanos in Guatemala and finished gruelling endurance races in Australia, plans on documenting a lot of the trip with a GoPro camera and taking people along with him for the journey.

But as always, his focus is on helping segments of society who cannot help themselves.

“People have complete trust in what we do,” he said. “They know every penny goes into the projects we champion. I’m very lucky. You just do your best to help others before they put you into the ground.”

People who want to donate and follow along with the journey can find details at www.snfc.ky.