Phileas Fogg
and the Top Hat challenge

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BUY THE BOOK
"Around the World in 80 Ways"
by Adventure Leader Robin Dunseath

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Week 14 > December 3rd 2002

Outside the Reform Club > London

A few words from Adventure Leader Robin Dunseath

December 3rd-the final day of a two and a half year dream-and London is smiling on us. I wake up at 6:30 am, gulp down a cup of coffee and put on
the Phileas Fogg outfit for the last time-the top hat, now battered but proud, the black flowing coat, seams coming undone, white shirt, cravate,
black trousers, socks and shoes. I go out of the hotel and round the corner and there it is-the space shuttle which is to take us back to the Reform Club on our eightieth way. Made by Smurfit Europe, who also made the cardboard boat in the Liffey in Ireland, it is magnificent.

Back in the hotel, the team is waiting for me-the adventurers of Mike, Miles and Caroline, Project Director Mary Donaldson who has done such a magnificent management job setting up the adventure, team manager Jon Cook looking more and more like Indiana Jones each day, Aoife, our journalist and Mike Macnamara our cameraman. Mary, Aoife and Mike Macnamara set off for the Reform Club, the rest of us board the shuttle.

We planned it would take one hour to get us from our hotel to the Reform Club, allowing for Christmas traffic. But there was no Christmas traffic and it took only fifteen minutes! So for three quarters of an hour, we sat at the side of the road, and drank coffee. Then Mary called us in on mission control and said all was ready so slowly and regally, we pulled up in front of the crowd outside the Reform Club - Sir Jimmy Savile stood on the road and greeted us, behind him on the steps of the club, Stan Todd of Rolls Royce, Sir Tom Farmer, standing next to Tony Blair's representative Mr. Ian McCartney, the Minister of Pensions and Works and Doris Ho from the Hong Kong Jockey club made up the welcome party, along with friends and family come to greet our return.. It is time for me to read out the proclamation of success, so I gather all the team beside me, read out the words ending that "The bet is won" and then, holding each other and to an enormous cheer, we go through the ribbon to complete the adventure. We have done it!

Then it is off to the Clifton Ford Hotel in London for the celebration luncheon starting with champagne provided by Rolls Royce. Doris Ho, over from Hong Kong and speaking on behalf of the many charities we have helped, makes an emotional speech, ending suddenly to avoid crying! Tim Haddock, flown over from Northern Ireland, sings his own composition "Around the World" and gets a standing ovation, Jimmy Spankie from Scotland interviews the team and Sir Tom Farmer concludes by reminding the team of the astonishing adventure that they have accomplished and pointing out that in time they will become legends.

Fifteen countries, over eighty means of transport, just under ninety speeches, a lot of money raised for charities around the world, many lives impacted, countless television, radio and newspaper interviews completed and the team home safe, sound, and with the challenge accomplished. That is some adventure.

So who do I thank for making my dream come true? Where do I start? With
Jules Verne, who wrote the original, without which I could not have had the idea? With the support team of Mary Donaldson Project Director and Stuart Nussey Route Director who, because they were mostly in the background, did not always get the credit they deserved? With the remarkable adventurers of Mike, Miles and Caroline, who accomplished the impossible on so many occastions? With manager Jon Cook who once hopefully asked me for a job description and quickly realised it was to do what needed doing. Then there is the remarkable media duo of Aoife and Mike, and how sad that illness prevented Aoife from completing the whole trip-and Mike who in between taking film, became a wonderful helper for the team..

Let's not forget the sponsors, like Sir Tom Farmer whose immense support opened so many doors, Stan Todd of Rolls Royce, who again opened so many doors and lent us our manager, the RNIB for lending us Miles, Dermot
Smurfitt and the team from Smurfitt for their wonderful ingenuity with the boat and the space shuttle as well as financial support and Hewlett Packard our technology sponsors, my thanks also go to Shakira for managing our website.... and many others.

We must also remember the many project managers around the world, all volunteers, all wonderfully warm people who were inspirational to us all and each of them tasked to making the project work in their own countries.

In fact, there are so very many people to thank- It is my fervent hope that everyone who came into contact with Around the World in Eighty Ways feels that in helping us, they have helped hundreds of thousands of people around the world.

The project was all about being positive and refusing to take no for an answer, and I will close with my favourite quote given to me by Miles, whom I regarded as our philosopher.

"Those who think it is impossible should not interrupt
those who are doing it."

Around the World in Eighty Ways was an adventure in exploring the impossible. And we all did it.

Now all I want for Christmas is a copy of Jules Verne's book Journey to the
Centre of the Earth-anyone care to send me a copy?

 

 

 

Mike - Adventurer Caroline - Adventurer Robin Dunseath - Adventure Leader Jon Cook - Adventure Manager Ian McCartney Sir Jimmie Saville Doris Ho - Hong Kong Jockey Club Mary Donaldson - Project Director Sir Tom Farmer Miles - Adventurer