Sir Ranulph Fiennes
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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. She died in 2004.)
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) 1979/82 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) 1992/93.
He has been awarded an honorary degree from Loughborough University, the University of Central England in Birmingham and the University of Portsmouth ; and in 1997 The Royal Institute of Navigation awarded Sir Ranulph 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 £4.2m for the Multiple Sclerosis Society, (which has enabled the building of Europe's first MS research centre in Cambridge) and £1.9m for Breakthrough Breast Cancer. In 1993 he was awarded an OBE for 'human endeavour and charitable services'.
Sir Ranulph’s first book was published in 1970 and since then he has written 12 further works including his autobiography Living Dangerously 1987, The Feather Men (UK Number One Bestseller 1991), Atlantis of the Sands 1992, Mind Over Matter (a harrowing account of his Antarctic expedition 1993), The Sett 1996, Fit For Life 1998, Beyond the Limits 2000, The Secret Hunters 2001 and Captain Scott (best-selling biography of 2003).
Also in 2003 Sir Ranulph, with Dr Mike Stroud, ran 7 marathons in 7 days on 7 continents. This, despite his having suffered a major heart attack and double bypass operation in June 2003
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.)
Sir Ranulph lives on Exmoor. When not training for expeditions or writing books, he is to be found helping on the farm, where his late wife established a herd of prize-winning Aberdeen Angus cattle.