Eaton & Cringleford

3,600 miles and 107 buses … for the love of Carolyn

Just Regional
Apr 10, 2024 4 mins read

Inspired by his late wife, GARETH PHILLIPS tells how he embarked on a remarkable journey to raise cash for pancreatic cancer research



Following my late wife Carolyn’s sudden death from pancreatic cancer in December 2017, I promised her that I would raise funds for research and awareness of this disease. In 2018 various events were held to raise funds for the disease in her memory and I have continued since.

The idea of travelling by bus around England using my bus pass started when she first received her bus pass in 2011 and I received mine some months later. We decided to do the trip together, but sadly that was not to be. In the rather bleak month of January 2019 I embarked on “Our last bus journey” to raise more money and awareness of the disease.

So on the first part of this ‘last bus journey’ I left from Newmarket Road on the Excel and travelled northwards through to King’s Lynn changing on to different buses  heading to Lincoln, Hull, Newcastle up to Berwick-on-Tweed, crossing through the Borders through Scotland and back to Carlisle, down through the Lakes, the industrial towns of the north to Leeds, Sheffield, Nottingham, Peterborough and home to Norwich on 32 buses over 11 days and travelling 1,200 miles. It cost me £8.50 and that was to get me out of Scotland for which I blamed Nicola Sturgeon for! Seriously though, I found that I could travel from England on my bus pass into Scotland ok but not out, hence the charge!

On my birthday – January 13, 2020 as covid was breaking in China, I embarked on my second stage of “Our last bus journey” travelling from Norwich and again on the Excel bus from Newmarket Road to Land’s End via Cambridge, Oxford, Bath, Bristol, Plymouth, Exeter and Penzance, up along the Devon coast through Tintagel on to Bude, crossing Dartmoor to Exeter and along the Jurassic coast to Lyme Regis, Portsmouth, Bournemouth, Eastbourne to Canterbury, through the Medway towns, under the Thames and back home via Chelmsford, Colchester, Ipswich to Diss and onwards to Norwich. That was a journey of 1,500 miles over 12 days on 44 buses which was all free!

I decided to make my final and third bus trip around England on December 28, 2023. It was six years to the day that the cancer ended Carolyn’s life. The previous two trips had been in January but I wanted to do the Open Doors Café again at church, so I started a couple of weeks earlier than planned. I left Newmarket Road and on this occasion took the new 90 service operated by Coach Services of Thetford travelling through Attleborough and changing at Thetford then onwards for Bury St Edmunds, Mildenhall, Newmarket, Cambridge, Buckingham, Oxford, Witney, Cheltenham, Tewksbury, Evesham, Worcester, Kidderminster, Shrewsbury, Whitchurch, Chester, Liverpool, Warrington, Wilmslow, Macclesfield, Buxton, Bakewell, Matlock, Belper, Derby, Kegworth, Loughborough, Leicester, Corby, Peterborough, Whittlesea, Wisbech, Kings Lynn, Swaffham, and home to Norwich. This trip took seven days on 31 buses travelling over 900 miles. Over the three parts of the journey, starting in January 2019 and then January 2020 and recently in January 2024  I covered over 3,600 miles in 30 days, travelling on 107 buses using my Bus Pass.

On all my journeys I have met so many very kind people wanting to support Pancreatic Cancer Research in memory     of Carolyn.

I have now written over 13,000 words about my journey and from them I talk to groups and societies to continue to raise funds and awareness. At a recent talk to   the old Eatonians at St Andrew’s Church Hall we raised over £90 for the charity, so thank you to all who contributed.

Anyone who would like to make a donation to pancreatic cancer research, can visit the justgiving page ttps://


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