Starting from John O'Groats on the northernmost coast of Scotland in 1983, 16-year-old Ffyona Campbell set out on an epic walk that would take her around the world. Eleven years and 19,586 miles later, she returned to the starting point, having raised £120,000 for charity.
Ffyona raised half this amount in one go by selling the advertising space on her forehead to Vaseline during her well-publicised return. Her great feat should have led the British press to hail the determined athlete a heroine. She had crossed four continents (Australasia, Europe, Africa and North America), walked through war zones and barely escaped numerous attacks. But Ffyona Campbell is remembered for cheating during her marathon. During her walk across the USA, when she was 18 years old, Campbell became pregnant by one of her support team, Brian Noel. It grew increasingly difficult to maintain the distances she had been walking daily. Tired and depressed, she decided to accept Noel's offer of lifts in between cities to help her meet appointments with sponsors. Four months later, after 1,000 miles of deception, Campbell had her pregnancy terminated and resumed walking. On her return to Britain, she received a mixed reception; the press criticised her self-obsessed nature while John Major praised her as a role model. Consumed by guilt about the miles that she had skipped, Campbell turned to heroin and came close to suicide before she decided to confess in autumn 1996. She returned to America to complete her journey and asked that her achievement be removed from the next copy of the Guinness Book of World Records. Her request was rightfully refused as even without the 1,000 miles she had easily broken the record. Understandably, Ffyona has since kept a low profile - though we can reveal that she has become an art student.
New Statesman, Gone, and (almost) completely forgotten, 22.07.2002