Sir Ranulph Fiennes
Sir Ranulph Fiennes OBE is described by the Guinness Book of Records as the ‘World’s Greatest Living Explorer’ having completed expeditions over the past forty years. A former SAS professional soldier, he embarked on a career as an explorer. He has climbed Everest and at 65, he man-hauled to both Poles and completed the Trans Globe Expedition.
Through his remarkable exploits, Sir Ranulph has also raised over £16 million for charities, inspired millions through his books and also worked hard to promote education, archaeological and scientific causes. After one of his polar expeditions, “Ran is unbounded and thank God he exists. The world would be a far duller place without him” -HRH Prince Charles.
How did your father inspire you?
In terms of me being a dad, it reflects on not having had a dad. Although I was born shortly after my dad died serving in the war, I was raised on stories of my dad and therefore, deeply respected him.
I use the inspiration of my dad and granddad (who I also hadn’t met) so when I have a problem, be it a small domestic problem or a problem in the arctic, it’s like dad and granddad are watching me. I wouldn’t want to do something to make them feel ashamed. I wouldn’t want to be the one to give up. Whenever I feel like giving up. I translate their inspiration, my respect for them and our heritage into refusing to give up. In fact, I translate that wish and drive into hoping that one of the others will give up.
How have you approached your role in fatherhood?
In terms of being a dad then, I have a daughter who is nearly eight years old and she has the most wonderful mum. As I am often working in the week, I try to get back home to be there at weekends. I love her and I always hope that she is doing OK at school because I wasn’t happy at school. I think that is a really important part of any young person’s life, along with having at least one good friend, security and support by parents.
I know it doesn’t always happen these days with an increasing number of one parent families, but if you can keep the family unit together, then that is a big bonus for the child growing up.
Are there places that inspire you?
For a long time, our group has looked at the Antarctic continent and the possibility of crossing it during a polar winter. We worked out a method of doing it on skis and looked at the nutrition and human aspects with Dr Michael Stroud. It looked good, and we based our ideas around the first summer crossing we had done previously.
What kind of characteristics do you value for your expeditions?
We like good natured people, who are not going to be sarcastic when the going gets tough. Usually, we are battling against the natural elements that will be trying to stop us. Often we want a mix of people, not all super intelligent. We are usually doing simple but difficult things, such as pulling very heavy weights, so we don’t want people thinking too much.
How have you managed to develop such big projects and dreams?
I have never really had any dreams. My late wife Ginny had very big dreams and was very skilled and determined. She found new and different ways to achieve goals and overcome obstacles. The big dreams came from her. Over the 35 years, I have also developed a wonderful team including Steve Holland and Mac, who have helped deliver new projects.
How have you approached your career as an adventurer?
I have also looked to find new and interesting challenges that break with convention. Sometimes, it is about being the first to achieve something. My expeditions have also always had a scientific or historic aspect, a charitable cause and of course, are educational. This usually has led to TV coverage, as well as books telling the story.
A quick motto that you live by…
You can teach skills but you can’t teach characteristics
For more info visit Sir Ranulph Fiennes website.
Image: Ian Parnell