Alex Toale, Imogen Prince and Phoebe Small a.k.a The Wallies
What were the highlights of your Jailbreak experience?
We probably should say meeting all the people along the way, which is true, but stuffing champagne, bread and cheese into our mouths on the piste was the definitive high-point! Having been lucky enough to get a lift all the way from Dover to Verbier we were able to enjoy a 12 hour holiday as well as winning the competition. We were relentless whilst on the road and it felt like all our efforts were being rewarded.
However, meeting the hilarious characters along the way was also a highlight; the people who picked us up were kind and friendly yet so individual. One man, Trevor, had just come back from a promiscuous holiday to Turkey and could tell a woman he loved her in eight different languages, and another, Phil, ran sex dating websites such as ‘Filthy over Fifty’ and ‘Saucy over Sixty’! The drivers really loved being part of the competition, which further encouraged us to succeed.
Getting police escorted to Dover was also quite exciting, where we met Stuart Munslow at the Ferry Port. We were losing all faith when Stuart pulled up in his Subaru and offered us a lift on the ferry… We were elated when he said he was heading for the swanky ski resort, Verbier, and really thought we had a chance of winning! He was such a great guy and really well-connected in Verbier which made us feel very safe but also got us very drunk!
Any low points?
Our emotions were like a rollercoaster whilst on the trip. When a car stopped to pick us up we were on cloud nine, but when we spent longer than ten minutes on the side of the road we all started to feel cold, hungry and miserable. Forty minutes on the side of the road in cold, wet Dover at midnight was a pretty low point.
We felt slightly deflated not getting any luck at Heathrow but we were kindly given a free Nero coffee, which warmed us up and lifted our spirits ready for the road to Switzerland!
Finally, when we were dropped at Membury Services on the way back, we were so close to making it back when a snowstorm hit. Our hangovers were peaking so we were running around the station like wild women begging people to take us. At that point, after all of our good luck, we were worried we weren’t going to make it back in time.
Do you have any tips for future Jailbreakers?
Have fun! Over the border we didn’t have the Internet so couldn’t keep track of where the other teams were, instead we just enjoyed ourselves and winning was the biggest cherry on top of the best adventure! Bring squash with you, some of the water you get in service stations tastes horrible. Most importantly, ‘if you don’t ask you don’t get’ – no matter how cheeky you feel, you’re going to need at least one coffee at some point.
How do you respond to criticisms that some of the funds you raised in the 48 hours were spent on transportation? Do you feel this undermined the charitable nature of the event?
We were quite upset to hear this; the Jailbreak rules allow you to raise money for transportation within the 48 hours, so we were well within the rules as we raised all the money for our flight home in one night at our final destination, plus another £200 extra for SVC as well as all the money we raised in sponsorship. Last year apparently a Cambridge team did magic tricks in Covent Garden to raise money for a flight which is no different. Furthermore, it’s a competition and we had to get home on time to raise our sponsorship money.
We kept our Jailbreak tops on throughout our time in Verbier and told everyone about SVC. The people who donated were so excited to be part of such a fun charity event and were more than happy to fund our trip back.
Additionally, if we did not have to get back to Cardiff for 2pm on Sunday we would have happily hitch hiked the whole way back… After all, meeting the kind people who picked us up really made our adventure what it was.
What support did you get from RAG/SVC? Was there any kind of assistance or support which you felt they failed to provide or could have improved?
Jailbreak HQ were great providing encouragement throughout the 48 hours and we felt really comforted knowing they were there if we got into any trouble. The texts we received were extremely supportive and really made us feel competitive!
The only suggestion we would offer is to have a more established welcome back reception. We promised our last driver, Keith, that there would be a team to meet us and take photos of us finishing the competition, as we were told via text from Jailbreak HQ. He very kindly took us all the way to the front of the Students’ Union and it was a little disappointing arriving to nothing. We rushed back for the 2pm deadline and as we ran into the office at 1.55pm we did expect a little more than the relaxed reception we got.
Overall, we had the best adventure and would recommend this event to any student. Not only is it a great feeling to be on the open road but also it is great to advertise Cardiff University and raise money for SVC.
Did you do any pre-planning?
We wrote to various companies attempting to blag a free flight but didn’t hear back so decided just to wing it and see what happens. Instead we thought we would try and get a flight by turning up at Heathrow and if that failed then cross the channel and keep going, but other than that no. In the Cambridge jailbreak last year some teams wrote to companies before hand to get flights, so they knew exactly where they were going from the off. But this way it felt like much more of an adventure.