How would you describe your time at The Blue Coat?
A non-stop cavalcade of hilarity. I’m sure it seemed like a drag at the time, but looking back, I can only seem to recall the fun bits. Although I don’t think the poor blighters who taught me would feel the same way! It’s been over 15 years since I was there, but I’m still good friends with my old schoolmates. They were – and still are – a good bunch.
How did your experience at The Blue Coat prepare you for your career?
Apart from the grounding in politics and world history (thank you Mr Caulfield!) and a decent grasp of French and Spanish, Blue Coat taught me to think on my feet – and how to talk my way out of situations. But that’s probably because I was forever getting into trouble…!
What has been your path since leaving The Blue Coat?
I studied Politics and Modern History at Manchester University. After I graduated I went backpacking for a year and then set up my own business directing, filming and editing videos. Everything came together in 2008 when I was offered the chance to produce a TV show for Lonely Planet, National Geographic and BBC Worldwide in which I attempted to visit every country in the world alone, on a shoestring budget and without flying.
After 1,426 days on the road, I reached South Sudan overland from Uganda – it was the 201st country of my journey (South Sudan didn’t even exist when I started) and secured my place in the Guinness Book of Records as the first person to visit all of the UN member states (plus some non-members for good measure) using only surface travel – buses, trains and boats.
What do you do now?
After a year of giving motivational talks, I am about to embark on my next adventure. For the next 12 months I will be living on my own private island off the coast of Panama. I’ll be attempting to live ‘off the grid’ and reach a point where I don’t have to go to the mainland for supplies. I’ll still have wi-fi though.
What would be your advice to students at The Blue Coat today?
You got into Blue Coat – that’s not easy. Well done. You should know that you’re some of the smartest and most capable young people in the country. You’re also British – a UK passport is an Access All Areas pass to any country on the planet. Make the most of it and resist the temptation to give up when things get tough. But no matter where life takes you, try not to forget your roots. You may not think it now, but Liverpool is one groovy town.
Oh, and DON’T RUN IN THE CORRIDORS!!
The BBC TV show of Graham’s Odyssey is available to watch on YouTube here.