Students hitch-hike across Europe to help five charities

Two university students are joining a hitch-hike from Sheffield to Slovenia in order to raise money for charity after one of them found out he had a brain tumour last year.

Craig Willbourne, 19, from Middlesbrough and Charlie Rees, 20, from Stratford-upon-Avon met last September as flatmates at the University of Sheffield and joined the Bummit society to hitchhike for charity.

One of the charities chosen for this year’s ‘Big Bummit’ to Ljubljana in April is especially personal to Charlie who had to postpone going to university last year in order to undergo cancer treatment to remove a malignant brain tumour.

The Sick Children’s Trust is one of the five charities supported by this year’s event. Others are Assist Sheffield, Roundabout, the Broomhall Homework Club and Legebitra.

The Sick Children’s Trust provides families with a place to stay, free of charge, close to where their child is being treated.

Charlie said: “I know personally how valuable those spaces are. I’m really pleased that Bummit have chosen a charity that provides that kind of thing.”

He added: “The treatment was very tough and I think what people don’t realise is how long you spend in hospital. On the day of chemo I could be there for 12 hours. They’re horrible spaces and places and being surrounded by people that are unwell is not a nice vibe.”

Charlie has already participated in a ‘Baby Bummit’ to Cardiff in November 2022 and is now being joined by Craig to hitch-hike across Europe.

It runs in Craig’s family as his mum hitch-hiked throughout her teenage years, including across West Germany to Berlin during the Cold War and through Italy when she was 18.

Craig commented: “When Charlie said he really enjoyed the one to Cardiff and they were posting about the big one in summer I said ‘Should we do it?’ and I spoke to my mum and then decided it would be something I’m interested in doing.”

When asked about how much they had planned their trip, Charlie said it was difficult to plan a hitch-hike but added “that’s one of the fun things is the uncertainty.”

The boys are hoping to secure the majority of their journey through hitch-hiking with truck drivers as they said they can guarantee a long distance in one trip.

One thing many people would be concerned about is the safety aspect but the boys both agreed that modern day hitch-hiking isn’t as dangerous as it is portrayed to be.

Craig said: “I’m not worried about the danger side. Hitch-hiking has a bit of a bad reputation. The consolation is that modern hitch-hiking is very different. We all have phones and I think that makes it safer.”

The Bummit society also provides a link on their website to track the groups as they travel.

When asked about what they would tell people who wanted to hitchhike with Bummit in the future, Craig added: “You may as well just take the plunge. You get to raise some money for some pretty cool organisations whilst also having some fun.”

Craig and Charlie have raised a total of £325.03 between them and are hoping to reach £250 each.

To make a donation or find out more about the journey, see Charlie’s donation page here or Craig’s page here.

Written by Olivia Harris

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