Clitheroe grandfather's sacred Macchu Picchu trek to say 'thanks'

Derek Russell with Kiki - one of the guides
Derek Russell with Kiki - one of the guides

He battled torrential rain, freezing chill, tackled steep narrow pathways, but tireless fundraiser Derek Russell has done it again for charity!

Shortly before 11am on October 18th, the 68-year-old granddad reached Machu Picchu along with 34 fellow fundraising trekkers completing the once-in-a-lifetime hike. In doing so, the grateful charity champion has completed his third fundraising walking challenge to say "thank you" to Alder Hey Children’s Charity for treating his baby granddaughter who died at six days old.

Team photo at the start of the trail

Team photo at the start of the trail

On his return to the UK, he was ecstatic to find he had exceeded his personal target of £6,323 and actually had achieved £6,595.

To reach Machu Picchu, Derek, (affectionately called Grandel by his grandchildren), had to trek for five days, covering over 30 miles, following steep narrow pathways in the Peruvian Andes, often with sheer drops just feet away, being hammered by torrential rain for hours on end and at high altitudes.

Whilst Derek is no stranger to mountain trekking or high altitudes, having climbed Mount Kilimanjaro last year, he admitted this trek was "definitely no stroll in the park".

He explained: "Having experience of trekking at high altitude is no guarantee that you will not succumb to altitude sickness! Whilst I was again fortunate not to be struck down, I nonetheless found walking for five consecutive days over an extensive distance to be extremely difficult. The only way I can explain how hard it is, is to suggest to any doubters that for four consecutive days they sleep in a tent on rocky ground, get up at 4-30am every morning, then climb up and down Snowdon, whilst carrying a full walking pack, and breathe through a straw!”

Looking ahead, Derek said: “I am so fortunate to have trekked in the Grand Canyon, summitted Kilimanjaro and seen Machu Picchu. Most people do not get to visit one of them and I have completed all three. I have seen some amazing sights, met some truly incredible people, made so many new life-long friends and hopefully helped an amazing hospital improve the care it provides to extremely ill children."

He added: "To successfully complete these challenges does require a huge commitment, not least having to constantly organise fundraising events and train almost everyday. Over the next 12 months I intend spending some time relaxing, enjoying time with family and friends, holidaying with my wife and reducing the pressure that goes hand-in-hand with such challenges."