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Intrepid explorer and author of the critically acclaimed book ‘Traversa’, Fran Sandham, stopped by at the Royal Hospital School, Holbrook, on Wednesday 21 November to give pupils of the Middle School a taste of his adventures in Africa.

Fran Sandham was an editor at Rough Guides for several years before deciding to embark on a three and a half thousand mile journey across Africa; apparently, as a result of a new year’s resolution. The lecturer and freelance author from London and the Wirral, said he spent the best part of a year, ‘basically living like a tramp’ working in bookshops to save enough money in order to make his dream a reality.

He began his journey on the western coast of Africa in Namibia, on the Skeleton Coast, and he travelled on foot, completely alone, with no back up and no support team, across the continent to his final destination of Zanzibar in the east. ‘Traversa’ is an engaging account of this remarkable journey.


Traversa by Fran Sandham

Reviews include:

‘At last – intrepid dispatches from a traveller refreshingly aware of his own folly. Sandham is a likeable and self-deprecating narrator, and I found myself increasingly gripped’ THE OBSERVER

‘A classical account of one man’s struggle to test himself against Nature … his pluck is appealing … I hope we shall hear more of his travels’ DAILY TELEGRAPH

During his talk to the 320 pupils, he admitted that his motivation for the trip went slightly deeper than just impulse, declaring he a fascination with the continent ever since he read a Tarzan comic as a child. He also named Dr David Livingstone and Sir Henry Morton Stanley as inspirational figures.

Sandham’s anecdotes ranged from avoiding lion attacks to trying (and failing) to form an unlikely alliance with Africa’s pack animals. When asked by one pupil whether he planned to do anything of the sort again, he confessed that perhaps next time a back-up team would not go amiss; and with a grin remarked that he was thinking more in terms of ‘selling out.’

The talk was thoroughly enjoyed by the 13 to 16 year olds who attended, with the Head of Middle School, Mr Chris Graham, praising it ‘as a great chance for all those following the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme to gain an extreme perspective on what they are trying to achieve.’

He went on to say to the audience, “At RHS you are encouraged to try something different, discover a passion and push yourself to achieve something you never thought possible – Mr Sandham has provided us all with inspiration – thank you.”

Cameron Fairrie, Year 11

The Royal Hospital School is a coeducational boarding and day school for 11 to 18 years olds set in 200 acres of Suffolk countryside overlooking the River Stour. http://www.royalhospitalschool.org