Over 140 people took part. Over £11,000 was raised. We were given 36 hours to get as far as possible from Nottingham, with no money. This was the challenge of the Great Escape 2013; run by Enactus, a student led charity who coordinate global projects to help communities in need.
Meeting in Lenton Park at 7.00 am on Saturday was a cold and daunting task. We were standing on the edge of the unknown. My teammate Harry and I had a plan, but no real assurance of how successful it would be, or where we would end up.
8.00 am arrived signalling the beginning of our 36 hours of adventure. As each team ran out of the park eager to get started, Harry and I believed this moment was the beginning of our journey to Australia.
However, we reached an early setback when we tried to blag ourselves onto a bus to town. The driver was obviously unimpressed with the two boisterous superheroes bombarding his bus, and much to our dismay said no to our request for a free ride. Instead, we walked to town, managing to fundraise enough to get us to Birmingham on the train. We planned to fundraise for a few hours, and then take a trip to Birmingham airport. We thought we’d been super clever, as most other teams had gone towards London, and we would have a monopoly on flights from Birmingham.
After a couple of hours of fundraising in the freezing cold we were ready to head to sunnier climes. Our shaking and shivering resulted in pity donations which meant we had collected enough to jump the train to Birmingham airport where we began working our charm to bag a free flight. The first salesperson we spoke to told us this airport was the worst we could have chosen. The second told us that London airports would be our only option. Fantastic.
We then met two policemen who took us to one side to discuss our collecting buckets – it is apparently illegal to fundraise in private property. So far, things weren’t looking good. Despite our red faces, we managed to turn the situation around. An explanation that our antics were for charity transformed these stern policemen into good sports. They agreed to help us out with the Best Photo prize, taking us out to their Land Rover for photographs with handcuffs and armed police officers.
After trying Stansted and Heathrow Airports to no avail, we’d resigned ourselves to the fact that we wouldn’t be getting any flights. So much for the bikini and sunglasses I’d packed in anticipation of a sunny weekend. Instead, we re-evaluated our situation and realised that we had a day to run around London dressed as Superheroes under the guise of charity.
Another prize from the Enactus team was for the best photo, so we decided to concentrate our efforts on that. All was not lost. We took a trip to Piccadilly, to the Ritz for photographs with the doorman, who decided we weren’t dressed appropriately for such a swanky joint. As we walked back to the tube station, we passed an Audi garage. With an air of charitable confidence we walked in, and asked if we could have photos in their R8. They obliged, letting us take turns sitting in the car.
We realised that this was what the Great Escape was all about. Sure, we hadn’t made it out of England, but we’d had a lot of fun roaming around London in fancy dress. We returned to Nottingham on Sunday night, exhausted from the weekend but feeling proud of how much we’d raised for charity.