(left to right): RAF pilot Andy Johnson, Anthony Haynes, Mira; and Alex Wratten of The Daily Telegraph.  

Mira man beats the desert in Help for Heroes challenge

Published:  18 December, 2009

NUNEATON: Mira engineer Anthony Haynes has just completed a gruelling 120Km trek of the Sahara as part of a desert challenge to raise money for wounded armed forces charity Help for Heroes.

Mr Haynes personally raised in excess of £4700 for the charity; with the total raised from the challenge being over £150 000 and rising. He has been a Mira engineer for seven years; and is based in Swadlincote, Derbyshire.

Help for Heroes aims to provide direct, practical help and support for service personnel wounded in the service of the country. Its current focus is for grants to create a series of regional Recovery Houses to be built across the UK and serve as the last stage of rehabilitation before a serviceman, or woman, returns to unit or transits back into civilian life.

The challenge trek was across the Moroccan Sahara: covering hard stony ground; through to soft, rolling dune sands. Mr Haynes spent seven nights camping in the desert, beating the overall trek target of 10 days by a day and a half.

Out of the 59 who started the trek, nearly half didn't make the full distance: a result of gastro-enteritis raging through the camp. Mr Haynes puts his good health during the ordeal down to a diet of hot chilli sauce, washed down by local red wine supplied by Berber tribesmen.

He comments on his motivation for undertaking the challenge: “My mate Richard’s brother is currently stationed in Afghanistan, and both my step-brothers have served in the area. I decided to give something back to show gratitude to the men and women of our armed forces – especially those who are wounded in the line of duty. I, for one, am eternally grateful, as we all should be”.

Beyond the heat, dust, night-time cold, thirst and illness; Mr Haynes’ main other challenge was personal hygiene, “There’s nothing like Mira’s top-notch showers out there; so it was wet wipes for a week – like being some monstrous toddler”.

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