Sir Ranulph Fiennes

(11 Jun 2008)

Sir Ranulph Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes was born in 1944 and 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 and 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, 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 Ranulph Fiennes and 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 1990/91.

Co-leader of the Ubar Expedition (which in 1991 discovered Ptolemy's long-lost Atlantis of the Sands, the frankincense centre of the world).

Leader of the Pentland South Pole Expedition (which achieved the first unsupported crossing of the Antarctic Continent and the longest unsupported polar journey in history) 1992/1993.

He has been awarded an honorary degree from Loughborough University, the University of Central England in Birmingham and the University of Portsmouth. The Royal Geographic Society awarded him with a Livingstone's Gold Medal in 1983 and a Founder's Medal in 1984. The Explorers Club of New York awarded Sir Ranulph with a Gold Medal and 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) and £1.9 million for Breakthrough Breast Cancer. In 1993 he was awarded an OBE for 'human endeavour and charitable services'.

Sir Ranulph is also the author of several books including his autobiography Living Dangerously, The Feather Men (UK Number One Best-seller), Atlantis of the Sands, Mind Over Matter (a harrowing account of his Antarctic expedition), The Sett, Beyond the Limits and his most recent The Secret Hunters.

In 1995 Her Majesty the Queen was graciously 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 and, in particular, his attempts to reach the North Pole between 1988 and 1990 and his successful trek across Antarctica in 1992/93. (No-one else has a double clasp medal each of which acknowledges both Arctic and Antarctic achievements).

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