Charity walkers making the long trek from east to west during the annual Convex End-to-End have always spent a good deal of time on the Railway Trail. The association between one of the island’s most popular fundraisers and its most-utilised national park is strong and long-established.
It is fitting then, that in the year of the 35th End-to-End, some of the money raised will be invested in three nature reserves on the route and accessible from the Trail. These beauty spots — the Rebecca Middleton, Sherwin and Gilbert nature reserves – are owned and maintained by the Bermuda National Trust (BNT).
The End-to-End has raised about $6.1 million for local charities, since the inaugural event in 1988. The target $50,000-plus donation for the reserves will mark the fourth time the event has funded Trail-related projects.
The BNT oversees 13 nature reserves and 277 acres, “a responsibility we don’t take lightly”, said BNT conservation officer Myles Darrell. “It takes a lot of time and money to make this possible, so we’re thankful we have sponsors like the Convex End-to-End,” he added. “This support will allow us to take on some issues that need to be addressed at the three nature reserves.
“We’ll be excited to remove some invasive species, inject more of our endemic species to make our green spaces more sustainable, and at the same time, make them more available for use. By having benches available at the Gilbert Nature Reserve, for example, walkers passing through can make good use of the space.”
Darrell added that the Railway Trail, which as a national park is overseen by the Parks Department, plays a key role in conservation and is sometimes referred to as an “Emerald Necklace”, because it connects a string of beautiful green spaces.
As a board member of Buy Back Bermuda, an organisation that purchases open spaces for conservation, Darrell said: “One of the key features we’re looking for is accessibility from the Railway Trail, because we know that is the conduit keeping our natural and open space – and, I would argue, our heritage – alive.”
He added: “It’s sad to think that our nature reserves are like living museums, where we’re seeing species that are not found anywhere else, in some cases. And Bermuda has quite a few of those, considering the size of our island.”
Stephen Davidson, who sits on the End-to-End’s Organising Committee, said the Trail’s great value to the community had only increased during the two years of the pandemic. “Bermuda is essentially suburban,” Davidson said. “The ability to get outside and away from roads is important. The Railway Trail is accessible to everyone.The End-to-End gets more people experiencing the Trail and we also want to help improve it – to give back to this linear park that is so much part of our event.
“The End-to-End gets more people experiencing the Trail and we also want to help improve it – to give back to this linear park that is so much part of our event.”
He added that there had been strong support over the years for putting more of the End-to-End route on the Trail, something that may become possible in future years after the bridge at Flatts is completed, opening up more of the North Shore part of the Trail to the event.
This year’s End-to-End, to take place on May 7, will feature a new title sponsor, Convex, the international re/insurance company. Corporate support is broad and substantial, with more than 50 local and international companies, including platinum sponsors Butterfield Bank and Deloitte, providing their backing.
Event costs are paid for by sponsors and entry fees, which enables every cent of the pledges raised by the walking, riding and swimming participants to go straight to the year’s selected charities. Along with the Railway Trail projects, the 2022 beneficiaries will be Transitional Community Services, which supports disenfranchised young men aged 18 to 34, as well as the Inter Agency Committee, which works with agencies serving children, families and the community with the aim of building social-sector capacity.
The End-to-End relies on hundreds of volunteers, of whom Davidson said: “You’ve got to have a sense of logistics and good humour to be involved!”
Support for the event runs deep in the community. As longtime supporter Davidson has seen the same families take part year after year. “People who were kids when I started out have grown up and are still involved,” he said. “There are not many places in the world you encounter that.”
Numbers this year are hard to predict. Davidson said: “In past years we’ve had as many as 3,000 – in the pandemic years it was in the hundreds. We hope there’s a sense in the community of waking up after the oppressiveness of Covid and that people will come out and enjoy Bermuda with us in support of these good causes.”
For more information about the Convex End-to-End, or to register, visit https://bermudaendtoend.bm .