Team of hunters taking part in the challenge (Jean-Pascal Barbe/PA)
Members of TV show Hunted are to swap their suits for jogging bottoms as they aim to climb the highest peaks across 94 counties to raise awareness for cancer.
Over the weekend, the team of 26 are to begin the challenge by climbing 11 peaks including Ben Nevis in Inverness-shire on Saturday and Leith Hill in Surrey on Sunday, with a total of 91 to be completed by October 30.
The TV show Hunted sees contestants go on the run for around 25 days, with a team of ‘hunters’ composed of former and serving police, intelligence personnel, and on-foot teams aiming to find them, and there is also a celebrity version which raises funds for Stand Up To Cancer.
Hunted team members donning their Peak Aid t-shirts in order to take on the peaks (Jean-Pascal Barbe is the third person on the back row) (Jean-Pascal Barbe/PA)
Jean-Pascal Barbe, 39, who starred as a hunter in the regular series in 2021 and will be taking on the challenge, told the PA news agency that the pancreatic cancer diagnosis of friend Dawn Rhoden in 2021 acted as the inspiration behind the challenge.
“On the show Hunted, I met George Rhoden who was a retired DI in the Metropolitan Police and he was quite a great inspiration for me because he kind of set up the Black Police Association and I guess he kind of set the precedent for working in the police and doing it successfully,” the detective from Bedfordshire said.
“Anyway, met him, worked with him and he was kind of like a mentor to me and I met his wife Dawn and she effectively is the reason why he is the way he is and I was very inspired by them.”
Jean-Pascal Barbe running with his son Alfred Olivier, 6 (Jean-Pascal Barbe/PA)
While filming for that series, Mr Barbe was told some “terrible news” about Mrs Rhoden.
“We just found out that while we were filming that Dawn has been diagnosed with cancer, the late stages of it, so she is going to have to go through very aggressive treatment,” he said.
“So after filming, a few of us got together and said we should do something about it and took on this challenge to give her a bit of a hope.”
Mr Barbe’s father also passed away with pancreatic cancer when he was 12.
He added that training for the challenge has left his and his team “hanging” at various moments and questioning why they ever thought the challenge would be easy.
“I don’t know if you’ve seen three blokes essentially trying to run up a stairs, it is like that, panting, maybe a little bit if crying,” he said.
“Then we thought, hold on, we said we were going to do 91 of these.
“Did we actually think before we acted? Clearly not.
“But we started it, so we will get ourselves up there.”
Jean-Pascal Barbe (fifth in the lineup) said that half of the fundraising target will be used to fund Dawn’s treatment (Jean-Pascal Barbe/PA)
Hoping to raise £50,000, which will be split equally between Cancer Research UK as well as to support Dawn with her cancer treatment, Mr Barbe said that it has been encouraging to see the support for the challenge so far.
“We’ve raised nearly £1,000 and yesterday we had a pledge from a clothing manufacturer up in Durham, who are going to give us £1,000 and we have only just launched”, he said.
People have also been encouraged to support the cause by carrying out their own challenges “whether it’s running, rowing, cycling, going up or down your stairs”.
“It’s not necessarily about climbing Ben Nevis or Snowden, it’s doing something of a similar distance because then you’re showing support and doing something, which is kind of like reaching your peak,” he added.