11:09 am September 25, 2022
More than half a century has passed since Malcolm Metcalf was in a cast for over a year and vowed to live a life of travel and adventure if he ever recovered.
Now, at the age of 88, the globe-spanning octogenarian embarks on his final ‘epic tour’, taking 17 trains across eight countries in 22 days.
Using the now 50-year-old Interrail pass – popular with students as a cheap way to explore Europe by train – he leaves Vauxhall Station in Great Yarmouth at 9.17am on Friday 30 September.
He intends to raise £10,000 for the Priscilla Bacon Hospice, which has just £1million left to raise from a target of £12.5.
His previous adventures have seen him travel overland to Australia, travel across Britain on his bus pass and traverse America by train – journeys that have raised thousands for charity, formed lasting friendships and spawned several books.
He estimates that this will likely be his last, although he has no health issues and states that he “doesn’t feel his age”.
After reading about the 50th Pass, he thought it would be ideal for his “final epic journey”.
“I’ve had some wonderful trips and thought I’d like to do another one. I can’t go to the US because it’s so expensive, so I thought that would be ideal,” he said.
Mr Metcalf, from Magdalen Way, Gorleston, funded the entire trip himself, including all accommodation and the ticket, which cost £466.
The journey will take him from St Pancras to Paris, where he will stay with friends from Rambouillet, which has had a partnership with Great Yarmouth for 40 years.
From there it will travel through Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Italy, returning to Yarmouth at 2.20pm on Saturday 22 October.
His longest journey will take 12 hours, and he will stay at each station for only a night or two.
He said his only concession to age is having a proper bed every night, albeit often in a hostel that costs as little as £21.
Mr Metcalf contracted tuberculosis (TB) in his spine in the 1950s and was in a cast for a full year, taking another year to recover.
During this time his twin brother bought him a book about travel and the rest is history.
He says he has always found kindness and friendship in his travels. So far his last visit has been followed by rail strikes and a trip to Peterborough to have his passport renewed.
While he understands that times are difficult, he hopes that if a large number of people donate as little as £1 each, he will achieve his goal.
He said his shaver, glasses and cell phone are his most important travel essentials and his biggest concern is the weather.
“Still, nothing really worries me,” he added. “I can adapt to anything. I walk alone but I’m never lonely.
“I’m very excited, I can’t wait. I’m fortunate to be in good health and I still keep fit walking to the harbor estuary every morning.
“After TB I had to learn to walk again and lost two years of my life.
“But I wouldn’t trade it for anything. That’s how I learned to appreciate life.”
Amy Bramble, Community Marketing and Fundraising Manager for Priscilla Bacon Hospice said: “We at Priscilla Bacon Hospice are thrilled that Malcolm has chosen to raise funds for us, his energy, enthusiasm and approach to life’s adventures are incredibly inspiring and we look forward to hearing about his travels in the coming weeks.
“We have raised over £11m so far and have just £1m left to raise.
“We officially broke ground on the site in February of this year and still need the help of our local community and people like Malcolm to complete the project as quickly as possible.”
To donate, search the JustGiving website for Malcolm Metcalf’s European train journey.