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Riding out the recession

Graduate hopes to beat doom and gloom by riding to Cape Town

For many students graduating from university it's a difficult time, given the current economic climate, and what to do next is a daunting prospect. But Sean Maher is meeting the challenge head on – by cycling from Cornwall to Cape Town. He hopes to ride out the recession and get some perspective in his life thanks to the adventure.

Twenty-year-old Sean said: “Three years ago I was choosing what I wanted to read at university. I was told categorically ‘you can do anything with a politics degree.’ I now know you can’t. Or you can’t when you graduate in the middle of the so-called Credit Crunch.”

So instead of staying at home and doing nothing he decided to do something different.

“I thought of ‘finding myself’ at the beach where they filmed ‘The Beach’ with all the other people who were finding themselves after reading the book or watching the film but I thought that was a bit of a cliché. So I decided to cycle from Cornwall to Cape Town, which I’m confident is not a clichéd gap year option.

“I graduated this year from Exeter University but I have been planning this trip since just before my exams when I suddenly started panicking about my lack of employment.

“I have been dreaming about it for several years but like most pre-recession students my main goal was for a sharp suit and big bank account, not the sharp contrast of Africa.

“The beauty of a bicycle is that you can still interact with the people you cycle past, you can still talk; share a smile or a knowing look.

“Hopefully when I get back I appreciate that even in the credit crunch we are more fortunate than many.”

The first leg of Sean’s six month journey, which will start in November, will be a short trip to Plymouth before getting the ferry to France. Then he will ride to Spain, through Portugal and back into Spain before taking another ferry to Morocco. His route through Africa will be decided nearer the time taking into account Foreign and Commonwealth Office safety guidelines.

And he has already received words of encouragement from Sir Ranulph Fiennes OBE who said on his website: "Your expedition from Cornwall to Cape Town looks like it will be a wonderful adventure. With all the doom and gloom surrounding young people in Britain today it is nice to see someone facing life head on for a worthwhile cause."

Sean is also raising money for four charities – Robert Jones Leukaemia Fund, Wooden Spoon, Pump Aid and Unicef, and if you would like to make a donation visit his webpage at

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