A FORMER Hampshire policeman is set to embark on a 650-mile pilgrimage to raise money for a children’s hospice.

Andrew Howes, from Oliver’s Battery, served as a constable in Romsey for eight years and is now taking on the challenge of walking the Via de la Plata from Seville to Santiago de Compostela in aid of Naomi House.

Mr Howes, who worked as a music teacher after leaving the force, retired from teaching at St John’s College in Southsea last year and is due to set out in early September.

“It’s quite a well known route as a pilgrimage and has been going for a number of years,” he said. “One of my former work colleagues did it in a number of stints while on leave and said I would really enjoy it.”

The journey is expected to take approximately two months to complete and will see Mr Howes travel from southern Spain to Santiago in the north-west.

Andrew, 63, a committed Christian, will be sporting the traditional scallop shell worn by pilgrims to the shrine of St James at Santiago cathedral.

Daily Echo:

The 650-mile route through Spain

“I used to teach at Stanbridge Earls School, before it closed, then at Stroud School before becoming the director of music at St. John’s. It was there that I started learning about Catholicism and converted fully to the faith with the help of Father George Lyons in Romsey.”

So far he has raised £400 and has one big pay-out coming his way if he completes the journey.

Landlords Neill and Pauline McCullock of the Royal Oak at Fritham have pledged £1 per mile.

He said he is making the trip in memory of his parents and that his inheritance would finance his travel costs. He hopes to raise £5,000 in total through sponsorship and a barn dance he’s organising for later in the year.

“My dear old mum passed away last year aged 92 and left me some money so I bought some equipment and a plane ticket and I’ll be off on August 25.

“I’ve always liked Naomi House and the work they do so I wanted to try and do this for them.”

To sponsor Andrew’s trek visit virginmoneygiving.com/AndrewHowes4Naomi.