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WIGHTLINK’S SUPER COMMUTER TAKES FINAL JOURNEY

Michael McCabe with Capt David Blake on the bridge of St Clare

Super commuter Dr Michael McCabe, whose intrepid trip to work included 2 separate ferry crossings and a cycle across the Isle of Wight, has undertaken the journey that made him a media sensation for the last time.

Principal lecturer Michael made the national news headlines in 2001 after devising a route to work that involved cycling from his home in the New Forest to Lymington to catch the Wightlink ferry to Yarmouth. From here he would cycle across the Island to a second Wightlink ferry crossing between Fishbourne and Portsmouth and then a further cycle to the University of Portsmouth where he works.

Michael devised the 42-mile route on a battery assisted bike because he was frustrated at the length of time the journey took by train. Though after a year or so he returned to more conventional commuting, Michael revisited the route that made him an unlikely news headliner to mark his retirement on Friday (7th September).

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He also used the crossing to raise money for Brain Tumour Research in support of colleague Prof. Geoff Pilkington who leads a team conducting research into the illness at the University of Portsmouth.

Michael, who lectures in mathematics, is also taking on some health challenges of his own in revisiting the unusual commute.

Michael, of Sway, says:

“In February 2016 at the age of 62 I was diagnosed as having a rare auto-immune disease, called polyarteritis nodosa or PAN. After weeks in intensive care and months of treatment at Southampton General Hospital, I required ongoing medication and had chronic kidney disease CKD.”

The illness has rendered him disabled and put pay to his passion of marathon running – he completed 33 marathons between 2002 and 2015, including a sub-3 hour-run at London in 2010 when he was 56.

“I am sad not to be able to run any more although I remain president of the New Forest Runners and am very proud of my role now in cheering on runners!

“My disability is relatively minor, since I can walk about 3-4 miles but nevertheless I was a little anxious about my challenge, even though my buddy Dave Johnsen undertook the commute with me.

“After 28 years, I am very happy to be retiring, bringing my days of commuting to an end but I will miss Portsmouth and its young people very much!”

Michael adds that he had seen steady improvement in the ferry services to the Island and had enjoyed his latest Wightlink journey during which he was given a visit to the bridge and, under close supervision, even got to take the helm of the St Clare.

Wightlink provided free crossings for Michael’s final run and also donated travel vouchers to the fundraising cause.

Wightlink’s chief executive, Keith Greenfield, says:

“We have been delighted to have played such an important role in Michael’s famous, and I have to say intrepid, commuting route. Naturally we were also keen to bid him a fitting and fond farewell as a commuter but we hope to see him plenty of times in the future as a more orthodox visitor to the Island.”

Anyone wishing to contribute to Michael’s fundraising for Brain Tumour Research can do so via https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/isle.

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