Philanthropy in action: Derek Haines

Derek Haines atop Acatenango volcano with daugther Lizzy and friend Gaby Amado.
Derek Haines atop Acatenango volcano with daugther Lizzy and friend Gaby Amado.

You’d be hard pressed to find anyone in Cayman who hasn’t seen Derek Haines running along one of the island’s roads, whether it’s winding South Sound, bustling Esterley Tibbetts, or the sleepy Eastern districts.

The former RCIPS detective chief superintendent was born in Leicester, U.K. in 1948 to a bus conductor and housewife, and served in the Leicester Police for 40 years before taking high ranking posts in Hong Kong, Turks and Caicos, and finally Cayman. In 2006 he left the RCIPS to become head of security and disaster management for DART Cayman before forming his own company, Haines Disaster Consultancy, in 2018.
He has been awarded an MBE, the Queen’s Police Medal and Colonial Police Medal, The U.S. DEA Administrator’s Public Service Award for actions against drug traffickers, and 31 other commendations for outstanding police work including gallantry.

Aside from his glowing career, Haines is equally well known for his charitable endeavours, often running marathons raising money for worthwhile organisations, and this year scaling the heights and lengths of the Pyrenees.

We caught up with Derek to chat about this latest fundraising adventure.

What was the motive behind your trek across
the Pyrenees?
It is something that I spoke about with a friend who helped me run a Venture Scout troupe and later became my best man. He has gone now but I still had a wish to do it and Michael Burcombe (Burco) took his place.

I also have a younger brother who has been in care for 60 of his 65 years. When I first started running for charity in the 1980s, I raised money for Special Needs and also ran for Special Needs Foundation Cayman (SNFC) a few years ago.

Burco and I had two goals besides finishing; Firstly, to raise awareness, and secondly to raise funds for the SNFC. I consider we have been successful on both accounts.

Tell us about more about the trek and its challenges.
Burco was with me all the way on this 53-day trek, including three rest days, from Hendaye on the French Atlantic border with Spain, to Banyuls-sur-Mer on the French Mediterranean border with Spain along the Pyrenees.

It is 955 kilometers, or just under 600 miles, but, most importantly, it is not the distance but the ascents and descents. We ascended, and thus descended, some 157,000 feet of steep unforgiving mountains. That is the equivalent in height of five and a half Everests from the sea to its peak.

We also encountered the hottest heatwave ever recorded in France and I lost over 20lbs. I’m now skinnier than when I was a teenager.

What was the first thing you did upon finishing?
We hugged each other and there is a video of us walking fully clothed into the sea. We then had a couple of cold beers.

How did you prepare for
this expedition?
By climbing the observation tower at Camana Bay. Definitely not enough.

Did your son Chris join you for part of the trek? What do your children think of your adventures?
He met us as we descended into Luchon, so about halfway through the trek, and stayed 3 days and that was great. I think they are happy about it and they are both very supportive; as is my wife Helen.

Is your family active
like you?
My son Chris has swum for Cayman in the CARIFTA games and has represented Cayman at senior and junior level at rugby. He captained the under 19s for two years. He is senior underwriter at Lloyds, London and a partner in my company.

My daughter Lizzy also swam for Cayman at CARIFTA and captained the team for several years. She also won a bronze medal for Cayman at the Island Games as a triathlete. She is a doctor in Brisbane, Australia.
Both continue to be very active.

You are a permanent fixture on Cayman’s roads. How many miles do you run a week?
Until this year when the focus has been on trekking, I have run over 2,000 miles a year so about 50 mile a week. I am back on the roads again and have clocked up over 30 miles this week, thus far.

What are your favourite stretches of the island
to run?
The loop, which is about 19 miles from Frank Sound to East End, Queens Highway and to Old Man Bay and then across to Frank Sound.

When did you first start running seriously? Were there other sports that you also partook in when you were younger?
I started running whilst in Hong Kong so about 30 years ago. I used to play rugby and have been the President of Cayman Rugby for over 18 years.

What is your next adventure or fundraising activity?
To be decided. But I will probably run in the Cayman marathon still for SNFC.

Derek Haines crosses the finish line at the 2014 Cayman Islands marathon with Governor Helen Kilpatrick, daughter Lizzy, wife Helen and Cynthia Hew.


What items can you not leave the house without?
My shorts and shoes.

If you could invite anyone to a dinner party?
Churchill and Taylor Swift.

What book are you reading right now, or which TV series are you particularly enjoying?
I am writing up my logs for the Coast to Coast trek so the guidebook GR10. Have just finished Paddy Ashdown’s Game of Spies. I like historical works.

Favourite song, style of music or era of music?
He ain’t heavy. (Hollies 1969). Neil Diamond. TS of course and 60s/70s.

What’s the worst/most challenging job you’ve ever had, and what did you learn from it?
Leading the RCIPS through and after Ivan. That, as always, some folks surprise you with their work integrity whilst others are the complete opposite.

Derek Haines makes a donation to Special Needs after the 1984 London Marathon.

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