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Pembrokeshire mechanic’s 3,000 mile mission to Gambia in search of his father’s grave

Dylan Haden pictured on a previous mission to The Gambia

Pembrokeshire mechanic Dylan Haden is preparing for one of the most poignant journeys of his lifetime when he makes the 3,000 mile journey from his home in Trecwn to Gambia, in search of his late father’s grave.

Chris Haden, 65, contracted Covid whilst carrying out essential charity work for Shine Africa whose aim was to empower the indigenous people of Gambia through programmes centred around health, education, livelihoods, food security and human rights.

Chris spent several weeks in hospital in Banjul and returned to his compound, appearing to be making good progress.  But sadly he took a turn for the worse.

Despite the medical care he was given by Fatou Gaye, the woman who runs the orphanage and clinic where Chris Haden had been working, he  passed away on April 14, 2021.

This month, Chris’s son Dylan, Dylan’s wife Gail and two friends from Scotland – Donald Stewart and Charlie Denny -will return to Gambia with the hope of finding Chris’s grave to pay him their last respects.

“The work that Fatou is doing in Gambia is phenomenal and we know just how much it all meant to my father,” Dylan told The Herald.

“She was with him throughout the last hours of his life, nursing him and caring for him and doing all she could to make him comfortable, so naturally it means a great deal to us to be able to go over there and give her something back and thank her for everything she did for my father.”

Their journey will involve driving two vehicles, donated by local minibus company S L Bell of Trecwn, which will subsequently be used by Fitou in the running of the Kunkujang clinic.  The clinic provides maternity care, family planning and a minor injury services as well as providing shelter for both boys and girls who have lost their parents, 

“Our journey starts in Pembrokeshire and we’ll sail across to Rosslare courtesy of Stenna who have provided us with the the crossing tickets free of charge, and then we’ll then travel to Bilbao in Spain, on to Algericas, across the straights of Gibraltar to Tangier, across to Morocco via Marrakesh and the Mauritania , Senegal and finally Banjul in Gambia.

“The distance will be around 3,000 miles in total and the cost of transporting both vehicles will be around £6,000.

“And naturally we haven’t got a clue how much the fuel costs are going to be, as we just don’t know how much the prices are going to vary as we make our way across Europe.”

Dylan and his team will be setting off on their journey on March 24 and are hoping to reach their destination within two weeks.

This is the third trek that Dylan has made to the Gambia in a bid to provide the country with much-needed vehicles. His previous journeys involved the delivery of Land Rovers but now, as the former dirt tracks are being replaced with concrete or tarmac surfaces, his attention has turned to minubuses.

The teams is currently looking for sponsorship or financial donations to help fund their massive journey to the Gambia.  They are also appealing for medical supplies, including crutches and walking sticks, children’s toys and children’s clothing.  Any donations can be made here, on the Crowdfunding link                                                                                                                                                                                                     .