On the 15th of November, Christ’s Hospital School hosted a talk by Sir Ranulph Fiennes OBE, wherein he spoke about his life, education and his career.


Speaking at a boarding school, Fiennes, 79, began his talk by speaking about his own experiences attending Sandroyd School and then Elton College. He spoke about the hijinks he and his friends got up to with a dry wit, and recalled that scaling the buildings of the school fostered his love of climbing.


Fiennes went on to attend the Mons Officer Cadet School in 1963. In the talk, he spoke about how his father and grandfather were both key role models, and how he admired their dedication the military. Following in his father’s footsteps, he served a short service commission in the Royal Scots Greys, his late father’s regiment. During his time with the Special Air Service, Fiennes’ friend complained to him about how the set Doctor Dolittle was an eyesore, and how much he wanted it to be gone from where he lived. With a wry smile on his face, Fiennes revealed to the fascinated audience that he specialised in demolitions for the SAS. He and his friend were going to explode the dam, but failed to police intervention. For this, he was promptly dismissed from the SAS, but continued to serve in the army until 1971.


Fiennes was best known for being an explorer, with his most notable excursion being that of the Transglobe Expedition, which circumnavigated the Earth longitudinally once over. In all, it took three years to cover the 52,000 mile journey; he and Charles Burton became the first people to visit both poles travelling only by surface and crossing oceans. On later expeditions, he raised money for charities such as British Heart Foundation and the Breast Cancer Campaign.


Fiennes is a decorated explorer, being awarded both the Order of the British Empire and the Polar Medal for his achievements. His wife, Ginny Fiennes, also earned the Polar Medal, being the first woman to receive the medal. 


In the talk, Fiennes did not minimise his late wife’s involvement. He spoke at length about the work she did as the radio operation in the Transglobe expedition, where she helped them navigate through morse code.


Fiennes’ talk ended with a motivational plea to the audience to go out and explore the world, even if others tell you that its impossible.