For over two decades, nurse Mark Dabbs has been travelling the globe to visit the graves of more than 200 dead celebrities.
The 40-year-old running fanatic has spent more than £50,000 and clocked up thousands of miles becoming a tourist of tombs from Bruce Lee’s grave in Seattle, America, to Chairman Mao Tse-tung’s crypt in Beijing, China.
Mr Dabbs, of Walsall, said his travels across six continents had taken him on an ‘educational journey’.
It began when he visited the grave of former president John F Kennedy at Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia, while in America in 1985 after reading about his assassination.
“Over time I’ve read about all kinds of people, visited their graves and used it as an education for myself,” said Mr Dabbs, who works as a nurse as Walsall Manor Hospital.
“I’ve now probably read about 40 books on John F Kennedy. I’ve probably been to 50 or 60 cemeteries. I learn something new every time. It’s interesting to learn about world events and figures.”
Mr Dabbs, of Darlaston Road, Pleck, is also a running fanatic and has taken part in dozens of marathons across the world.
He wants to complete marathons in all of America’s 50 states and his visits to cemeteries in foreign lands often coincide with his global trips to running events.
“I’ve been running for 20 years or more,” he said. “I’ve probably done 70 runs, mostly marathons, in countries all over the world.
“I go on websites before visiting the countries and see if there are any graves I want to go to, or I might do some research when I’m there.
“I must have spent about about £2,000 a year, including flights and accommodation.”
Talking about the different graves he has visited over the years, Mr Dabbs said: “There’s film stars in Los Angeles and people who are writers like Ian Fleming and George Orwell.
“I have probably seen the graves of around 20 presidents and 15 to 20 prime ministers. I would like to see them all eventually. In most countries I go, I try to see the graves of world leaders.
“In 2011, I went to see Chester Arthur’s grave in New York. He was one of the presidents. His grave is interesting. It has a chest and a presidential seal.
The musician Jim Morrison has a bust of himself on his tomb in Paris. It did have a lot of graffiti on it. I went to see it twice, in 1996 and 2002.”
He has also taken in the resting places of Leon Trotsky in Mexico City and the grave of rocker Johnny Ramone in Los Angeles. As well as seeing Jim Morrison’s tomb at the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, Mr Dabbs also paid a visit to the graves of Polish composer Frédéric Chopin and French singer Édith Piaf.
Closer to home, he has been to visit Karl Marx’s grave in London and that of comedian Benny Hill in Southampton. He has also been to see the grave sites of TV presenter Jeremy Beadle at Highgate Cemetery in London, novelist Jane Austen at Winchester Cathedral and former PM Winston Churchill at Bladon, Oxfordshire.
Other graves Mr Dabbs would like to visit are those of Kim Il-sung in North Korea and Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam.
Mr Dabbs has also met more than 100 mayors, ranging from Truro to Carlisle, York to Portsmouth and as far afield as Oslo and Stockholm.