Glasgow students make a break for it

Published

Amy MacGregor

Four Glasgow University students recently managed to make their way to Alicante – without spending a single penny.

As part of a fundraising attempt for Comic Relief, the Jailbreak Challenge required the nine participating teams to travel as far away from the Queen Margaret Union as possible for free in 48 hours.

Neil Docherty, Chris Jones, Andrew McAllister and Jamie McGeachy managed to raise over £1100 in sponsorship for their 1,225 mile-long journey.

Speaking to Guardian, Andrew McAllister explained how daunting the challenge initially seemed to his team.

He said: “We left armed only with red noses, kilts and passports. The kilts helped massively but everything else was to be acquired through sheer charm.

“We can’t believe we made it all the way to Alicante. We thought we’d most likely get as far as the end of Byres Road.”

The team encountered difficulties almost immediately, when they tried to persuade taxi drivers to transport them for nothing.

Christopher Jones told Guardian: “We ran from the QMU thinking that we could blag a free taxi to the airport. The two taxi drivers we stopped literally told us to get lost.”

The team did eventually make it to the airport but encountered further problems when they were told that there were no airlines able or willing to allow them onto a flight.

Jones continued: “We phoned the Jailbreak headquarters at 7pm and we were told that we were the only team not to have made it out of Glasgow. We were devastated.”

The four were then able to convince Virgin Trains to allow them to travel to Manchester in First Class seats.

Once at Manchester Airport, travel operator Thomas Cook gave the team four tickets to Alicante in Spain.

Not content at having travelled over a thousand miles from home, the team decided to try and make it to Algeria by boat. All that prevented them from carrying out this plan were warnings from locals about the potential safety risks of such a venture.

Raymond Bell and Mark Cook, QMU stewards, managed to go even further during the challenge. The pair travelled 2,009 miles to Las Palmas in Gran Canaria, also using free flights from Manchester offered by Thomas Cook.

Bell described to Guardian the methods he used to secure free transport and his disappointment at having to pay once more after the 48-hour challenge was up.

He said: “We found it far too easy to get on to trains, and even planes, as we look like we are in need of help so it was simple.

“We were offered flights to the Dominican Republic but realised we might not be able to get back if we went that far.”

“I was truly amazed to have travelled 2,009 miles for free, but to then have to pay £4 for a taxi just from the centre of Glasgow to the QMU was a shock.”

Other, less far-flung destinations reached during the challenge included London, Ipswich, Wick and Newcastle.

The amount raised by all nine teams for Comic Relief was over £3,000 with a combined total of 5,263 miles travelled.