The event, conceived by Aidy Watts, consisted of four two man teams visiting as many prisons in England and Wales
as possible in two and a half days. Each person was allowed £15 per day for food and drinks. No transport or accommodation
costs could be incurred. To prove a team had been to a prison a photo would be taken with sealed disposable cameras provided.
The winners of the event would be the team scoring the most points, with points calculated by multiplying the amount of prisons
visited by the number of miles covered.
Each participant was gained sponsors with money raised going to the "Erica Maguire Trust Fund". Erica is the three
years old daughter of Steve, a fellow officer and friend who was tragically killed just over twelve months ago.
Day 1 Tuesday 14th May
We all met at the Castle outside the main gate at 07.30am and had photos taken to chalk up our first bagged prison.
I actually asked my partner in crime Hugh Reid if he had taken the photo as I had got caught up in the excitement of the morning.
To my relief he had.
Three of the teams then made their way to Bay Radio to be interviewed on the air by Gilly. When asked by Gilly who
was going to do the talking, it was unanimously agreed, by the pointing fingers that Hugh would be it. Reluctantly Hugh stepped
forward and explained the ins and outs of the jailbreak.
After the inter view Hugh and myself set off with the aid of a donated lift from Kevin of A to B Taxis to HMP Preston,
doubling back to HMP Lancaster Farms as we had a lift from Gerry a lorry driver for Asda. This lift to Manchester was to enable
us to pick up a ride with Expert Logistics to Avenmouth near Bristol at 08.00pm. Expert Logistics deliver electrical appliances
all over the country.
Things got a little slow then as Gerry had to take his legal lunch break of 45 minutes and so we found ourselves still
in Lancaster at 01.00pm with all the other teams shooting to the four corners of the country.
With lunch proceedings sorted off we shot to the Manchester area unfortunately at a very modest 40 miles per hour
due to high winds.
We reach another Asda store in a place called Pilsworth near Manchester at 02.45pm and were soon met by Hughs brothers,
uncles, sisters, boyfriends fathers, wifes, husband (well something like that) who took us to bag Forest Bank and HMP Manchester.
At Menchester we were met with the gate OSGs laughing like hyenas at our dress and informed us two jail breakers had
been that morning. Their description pointed to Billy Johnson and Shaun Whetherill who had earlier got a lift to Liverpool
by Brian Love. Brian informed me later that when they got to Liverpool a very keen OSG told him that he must move his car
immediately. Brian explained that he would do so but he was just dropping off a couple of jail breakers from Lancaster which
sent the OSG into hysterics saying that she could not accept any escapees obviously taking Brain literally.
So with Manchester bagged Hughs relation took us back to Asda Pilsworth. Hugh texted Aidy and Conan that Manchester
was bagged with Aidy replying, who are ya!! Weve got Brinsford and Stafford. Good start for Aidy and Ash Bradford on the first
We then had to walk two miles to the Expert Logistics depot at Heywood. With quite a bit of time to spare a lift was
arranged and we managed to bag HMP Buckley Hall, which was a bonus, as we had not thought it possible to get in time.
We then headed, with lifts on the Expert Logistics trunking route, to Avenham getting there at 11.30pm. After the
unloading of the wagons Hughs brother sneaked us in his hotel room to catch a few hours sleep. Unfortunately sleep was very
sparse and amounted to 2hrs maximum due to minds racing on how the second day would turn out.
2 Wednesday 15th May
After a light breakfast of a vary large bacon and egg loaf we headed of south with one of the local delivery crews
of expert logistics. We would visit prisons in conjunction with deliveries.
Hugh gave his first live update to Bay radio live on air which and as we were to find out later these updates became
so popular with our friends back home that unlock in the prison was delayed so all the staff could listen in.
The first prison of the day was to be HMP Exeter. With that bagged HMP Dartmore was next then on to HMP Channings
Wood then HMP Dorchester and then we dropped down to Weymouth and The Bill of Portland to pick up HMP Weare, Portland and
The Verne. As we left The Bill a text message from Aidy came in done the Isle of Wight 3 on our way back to which Hugh sent
back in Weymouth and the Portland 3 done. The competition was really hotting up.
Coming away from Weymouth we intended to visit HMP Guys Marsh but unfortunately, along with several other prison,
due to difficulties in accessing them, we had to make do with HMP Shepton Mallet and HMP Bristol.
This was the end of our second day and thanks go to Hughs brother Charlie and Darren for their dedication to our cause,
generosity and their patience.
With a few hours to spare Charlie bought us a meal consisting of Steak Tallahassee that, with several pints of John
Smiths Smooth, went down very well indeed.
So off we set at 11.45pm back to Expert Logistics depot to catch the night run back up north.
Day 3 Thursday 16th May
We had decided on not going back to the Heywood depot so were dropped off at junction 11 on the M62 near Risly at
Thank goodness it was a dry morning as we knew we would be do a lot of walking and hitching.
After walking some 2 miles we bagged HMP Risly. Thankfully the flash on the camera worked, as it was still dark.
headed for Lowton and when reached we would decide whether to go for the Liverpool Prisons or not. After some three to four
miles of hitching with no results I told Hugh that probably our best bet would be to go for Hindley as lifts were not materializing.
I told him that we should head for Golbourne then Platt Bridge and double back to Hindley. Just then with thumbs aloft our
first lift came.
On scampering up to the lift like a dog welcoming his owner back home I ask where he was going to and to our amazement
Platt Bridge came the reply. Not only did he take us there but continued on right up to the gates of HMP Hindley.
With that bagged and it still only being 05.30pm we felt invincible and as the old saying goes pride precedes a fall.
We then headed for Heydock roundabout, some 7 to 8 miles, were we had access to the M6.
Never has the use of the thumb been put to the test and to our dismay not one lift was offered which lead us to believe
motorists actually thought we were convicts.
On reaching Heydock Hugh phoned a pre prepped taxi driver on his way back from an airport drop off and a lift to Charnock
Richard services was secured. On the way there Hugh had his morning update call from Gilly of Bay Radio which was by now more
popular than Eastenders. He gave a report of how we were doing and to the best of his ablity how the other teams were doing.
Then a bit of a shock came when Gilly told him to wish me happy birthday as my wife Lorraine had been on the phone to him
sending best wishes to me. I was very honest when ask how old I was by Hugh and told the nation I was 24.
From there we headed for Garth and Wymott. Three miles walking up the road we had success with a lift. An estate car
stopped several hundred yards away and sheer exhilaration fill our bodies as we scampered to our good Samaritan, who could
only be described as a toothless pig farmer. Not wanting to look a gift horse in the mouth we accepted with Hugh volunteering
for the back of the car which appeared to have an amount of hay a pig excrement covering the floor. I asked the driver if
he was going to Garth prison to which he replied with a bark Im going to Leyland. I asked if he could drop us off near to
the prison Im going to Leyland was his articulate reply. I stuck to my guns and asked for anywhere a bit further up the road
to which I got the already apparent barked reply Im going to Layland Get in.
Calling on our considerable inter personal skills and assertiveness we did exactly as we were told and got in.
As the journey got started I couldnt help but notice that he kept his false teeth on the dash board which if you think
of it is quite handy. although a sealed container of water could have been fractionally more hygienic. Anyway to his credit
he took us to Garth instead of Leyland and so we said goodbye and Hugh vigorously brushed off what he had picked up in the
back of the car and off we set to bag HMP Garth and Wymott.
Kirkham would be our next port of call and we were thankful of a lift immediately that look us near to Preston.
After a short roadside walk another lift was offered. Two women said they were going to Fleetwood and get in well
drop you off at the gate of Kirkham.
This was certainly turning in to a Rolla coaster ride of highs and lows. Refreshments were taken as we pondered how
best to proceed. Vans and wagons leaving Kirkham were all going south, no good to us.
Then a brain wave. Martin Chesworth was known to live close bye. So with a bit of detective work Chesys house was
found. To our luck Chesy and Bev had got back from a holiday abroad a hour before so quickly asking if they had enjoyed the
holiday we stung Chesy with how about a lift to Broughton roundabout. Poor lad how could he refuse.
So off we set. No more prisons to bag, still only 12.30pm, but we had been traveling since 4 am and our feet and legs
were getting sore.
As Chesy dropped us off the realization of a 20 mile hike set in. By this time I was limping noticeably due to wearing
the wrong type of socks.
On we marched in the blistering heat. Our clothes getting heavier and heavier due to the accumulation of sweat.
Hugh said that my limp had seemed to have gone, but this was because I was now limping on the other foot so it looked
as though I was walking normal.
Still we marched, onward, boots pounding, on the unforgiving asphalt. A car stopped with three youths beckoning us
to their car only to be given three pairs of the V sign as they sped off laughing.
Then a genuine lift, going to Garstang, another woman asking if we were part of the Castle Jailbreakas she had heard
all about it on the radio. Thank heavens for Bay Radio and the Reverend Hughies Thoughts for the Day.
She dropped us off at a pub outside of Garstang and bade us good fortune which was absolutely spot on as within 50
yards a white taxi stopped and it was none other than Kevin Dixon of A to B taxis who gave us our first lift on Tuesday and
what seemed like an age ago.
Kevin said he would drop us off at the Castle. We would have none of it as we wanted to make a dramatic sweaty entrance
at the Merchants. So we stopped off at the Bowling Green pub at Scotforth to be greeted by none other than Brian Norcross
who offered us another lift the Castle. Whats with all the lifts all of a sudden?
Brian understood and so we settled down to a welcome glass of shandy before making the final trek to the Merchants.
Like the marathon runner entering the stadium with cheers ringing we walked through the streets of Lancaster. Entering
the Merchants we were met by a proud throng of Castle staff giving us high fives and plenty of back slapping and glad to see
us safe and well.
This was an experience that I know Hugh and I will remember for a long time. We experience people at their best with
good feelings oozing in our direction. The shear generosity of people was for all to see and it showed that faith in human
kind was certainly not misplaced.
Roll on next year.
Paul Barwell partnered with Hugh Raid.