When Matthew McVarish was 11, his first job was delivering The Sunday Post around the wards at his local hospital, Hairmyres in East Kilbride.
The walk he’s on just now is just a little longer than that paper route.
The 30-year-old left home last May to begin an epic 10,000-mile slog around Europe, which won’t see him return to Scotland until next February.
The actor, who has starred in River City and CBeebies show Me Too, is visiting 32 capital cities on foot to raise awareness of child sexual abuse.
Matthew and his brothers were abused by their uncle, who has since been jailed. “I don’t particularly like walking,” laughed Matthew, who is now in his 14th country. “But I was made European ambassador for Road to Change, an organisation whose mission is to stop child sexual abuse. I felt I should visit these countries and I thought
walking the huge distances would create attention, which it has.
“We’re getting national news coverage in each place and I’ve been speaking to government officials in every country, too. I want to see them abolish the Statute of Limitations, so that reporting these crimes is not time barred.”
Matthew walks eight hours a day, usually completing around 25 miles in his hi-vis clothing and blue kilt. He recently arrived in Austria from the Czech Republic and says he’s holding up well, despite a tight budget.
“I’ve lost two stone so far, despite eating 5000 calories a day. I’ve lost five toenails and my calves are as big as my thighs, but my health feels OK. I sometimes get a little ill from being out in the rain and cold, but nothing serious.
“I have a 16-year-old motorhome and I’ve had five drivers so far — they’re all volunteers because I can’t afford to pay them. The current one is a Swedish guy called Stig.
“In every country, the van gets worse. It’s been vandalised, hit by a truck, someone tried to break into it and there are holes in the roof.”
Matthew has no corporate sponsors, relying on donations for food and petrol. He is still 13 months away from
completing his task, but says he’s enjoying the journey. For more information, go to www.roadtochange.eu.
BY MURRAY SCOUGALL, 26 JANUARY 2014.