Jailbreak – raising money to escape Exeter!

Jailbreak – raising money to escape Exeter!

Heledd Wilshaw discusses her rewarding Jailbreak experience, and how her team raised the money to fly to Lanzarote

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Sitting in the Library. Four hours down and four more to go. Naturally I’m procrastinating, and daydreaming about a weekend away, a beach holiday maybe? I sigh, and turn back to my work. “As if that’s ever going to happen, dream on…” But through Jailbreak, I quite literally said ‘screw it’, dumped my work and my classes and went hitchhiking for a weekend, like any normal student would.

 I was dead set on getting out of the UK

I signed up to Jailbreak with my two friends, and honestly I don’t know what I expected, but I was dead set on getting out of the UK, and no, Scotland was not good enough in my head. We got stuck on the first hurdle; picking a team name. It’s harder than it looks and we went through so many potential team names, some admittedly offensive and decided, after much deliberation, on “Antarctica or bust”. And we were going to dress up as penguins. Get the joke? Yeah, we thought it was hilarious too. We planned what we could and even set up a twitter account to get us started, but after that it was just waiting for the big day.

Today is Jailbreak day. I’m so nervous that I’ve forgotten something, and I’m thinking about the worst that could happen.

I wake up filled with dread. Today is Jailbreak day. I’m so nervous that I’ve forgotten something, and I’m thinking about the worst that could happen. I ask myself why I signed up. More than once. And then I pick up my bag and leave the house.

When I (eventually) got over myself, I had an amazing time; we were pretty amazed that, whilst some people ignored us and others gave us contemptuous looks, the majority of people were kind and friendly, and it’s those people who helped us in getting as far as we did. We hitched lifts with some amazing people, even a student at Exeter helped us along the way, and we fundraised in London and Exeter to eventually get flights to Lanzarote! My friends were so jealous that I’d swapped an uncomfortable library seat for a towel on the beach in full sun, and I welcomed the break from work. We ate well and relaxed, full knowing that despite not having paid money to get there, we deserved a break.

I won’t lie to you; it was bloody hard work. I remember being sat in Trafalgar Square, ready to cry, as yet another person ignored me. Though I tried to stay positive, I was tired, my bag was heavy, it was cold and I hadn’t properly eaten all day. We were told that we had to leave multiple locations because of restrictions on fundraising, and I was growing more frustrated as time wore on.

But then every time someone put money in the pot (one guy gave us 6p, but still, it’s the thought that counts) we felt a burst of energy, and we became more positive as we stood in Victoria Station and we were reminded that not all people are awful. I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world, and all the stress was worth it in the end. Jailbreak? Yeah, we completed it, mate, and we got 2,729 km from Exeter, all through the kindness of complete strangers.

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