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Sir Ranulph Fiennes is an adventurer, explorer and holder of several endurance records.
He was born in 1944 & educated at Eton. He served with the Royal Scots Greys for a time before joining the SAS. In 1968 he joined the Army of the Sultan of Oman & in 1970 was awarded the Sultan’s Bravery Medal. In the same year he married his wife Virginia (In 1987, Virginia was the first woman to be awarded the Polar Medal).
Since 1969 when he led the British Expedition on the White Nile, Sir Ranulph Fiennes has been at the forefront of many exploratory expeditions. Described in 1984 as the World’s Greatest Living Explorer by the Guinness Book of Records, his expeditions around the world include:-
Transglobe: the first surface journey around the world’s polar axis – 1979/1982, during which Sir Ranulph Fiennes & Charles Burton became the first people ever to reach both poles by surface travel.
North Polar Unsupported Expedition: furthest north unsupported record – 1986.
Anglo Soviet North Pole Expedition: – 1990/1991.
Ubar Expedition: Co-leader of this expedition in 1991 in which he discovered Ptolemy’s long-lost Atlantis of the Sands, the frankincense centre of the world.
Pentland South Pole Expedition: Sir Ran was the leader of this expedition which achieved the first unsupported crossing of the Antarctic Continent & the longest unsupported polar journey in history – 1992/1993.
He’s been awarded an honorary degree from Loughborough University, the University of Central England in Birmingham & the University of Portsmouth. The Royal Geographic Society awarded him with a Livingstone’s Gold Medal in 1983 & a Founder’s Medal in 1984. The Explorers Club of New York awarded Sir Ranulph with a Gold Medal & Honorary Life Membership in 1983. In 1997, The Royal Institute of Navigation awarded him Honorary Membership. In 2000 The Explorers Club, British Chapter, honoured Sir Ranulph with the Polar Exploration Millennium Award.
Sir Ranulph’s expeditions have raised over £4.2 million for the Multiple Sclerosis Society, (which has enabled the building of Europe’s first MS research centre in Cambridge) & £1.9 million for Breakthrough Breast Cancer. In 1993 he was awarded an OBE for ‘human endeavour & charitable services’.
Sir Ranulph is also the author of several books including his autobiography Living Dangerously, The Feather Men (UK No. 1 best-seller), Atlantis of the Sands, Mind Over Matter (a harrowing account of his Antarctic expedition), The Sett, Beyond the Limits & his most recent The Secret Hunters.
In 1995 Her Majesty The Queen was pleased to award Sir Ranulph a second clasp to the Polar Medal that he already has, in recognition of his outstanding achievements in Polar exploration & in particular, his attempts to reach the North Pole between 1988 & 1990 & his successful trek across Antarctica in 1992/1993. No one else has a double clasp medal each of which acknowledges both Arctic & Antarctic achievements.
In 2002, with Mac Mackenney as his right-hand man, he attempted to walk solo & unsupported to the North Pole. The expedition failed when his sled fell through weak ice & he was force to pull them out by hand. He sustained severe frostbite to the tips of all fingers on his left hand, forcing him to abandon the attempt.
Despite suffering from a heart attack & undergoing a double heart bypass operation just four months before, Sir Ran joined Mike Stroud again in 2003 to carry out the extraordinary feat of completing seven marathons in seven days on seven continents in the Land Rover 7 x 7 x 7 Challenge for the British Heart Foundation.
Sir Ran reached 28,500ft in a 2005 attempt to climb Everest & joined the Victoria Falls Expedition, celebrating the 150th Anniversary of David Livingstone’s discovery.
In March 2007, despite a morbid life-long fear of heights, Sir Ran successfully climbed the North Face of the Eiger where he raised £1.5 million for Marie Curie. On 24th May 2008 he had to abandon an attempt to be the oldest Briton to climb Mount Everest, being forced to turn back from exhaustion after reaching the final stopping point in a climb for charity.
On 20th May 2009 though, Sir Ran successfully reached the summit of Mount Everest becoming the oldest British person to achieve this.
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