If I were to describe the world famous polar explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes, who appeared at Theatre Severn in Shrewsbury this week, I would say, charming, humble, a voice like galaxy chocolate, ridiculously brave and really very funny.
Some of this I told him as I queued up to have my book signed. I stood in the line nervously waiting to approach this legend trying desperately to think of something profound to say and all I could mutter was: “You’re very funny as well as brave.” To which he humbly (as previously mentioned) replied “Thank you.”
Everest, The Eiger and more, was a interview style ‘show’ whereby acclaimed high altitude mountaineer and photographer/cameraman, Ian Parnell (also a legend and so I asked for his autograph also), posed questions to the internationally famous African born explorer.
When Sir Ranulph Fiennes turned his attentions from the great frozen wilderness of the Poles to the world’s highest and most testing mountains, he faced several challenges.
As the intimate question and answers revealed, for a start ‘Ran’ (as Ian affectionately called him) was just entering his sixties and recovering from a very severe heart attack, had no climbing experience and, not least, suffered from vertigo.
Myself and the rest of the packed house, were lucky enough to share in the inspirational story about how he conquered those fears and as you would expect, meeting a man whose latest book bares the motto ‘Life is too short for second-class ambitions’, you are left reeling and wanting to go forth and do something exceptional.
Sir Ranulph Fiennes talked about his childhood and time in the army and SAS, his marathon effort, which saw him and a friend running seven marathons in seven days on seven continents, his expeditions to The Eiger and three to Everest.
Ian accompanied Sir Ranulph on both mountains, filming for television broadcasts, and illustrated the evening with footage (some unseen) and stills whilst Sir Ranulph explained what it takes to finally stand on top of the world, raise millions of pounds for Marie Curie.
40 years of exploring
During his 40-year career, Sir Ranulph Fiennes has led more than 30 expeditions and is the holder of several endurance records. He completed a 52,000 mile Transglobe overland expedition, and was the first person to visit both the North and South poles by surface means as well as becoming the first person with Mike Stroud to cross Antarctica on foot.
Overall, I very much liked him and thought he seemed to be a real individual and someone who doesn’t seem to think he can’t do anything. Not many people would take on the challenges after a suffering a major heart attack, and then nearly having another just a few hundred feet from the summit of Everest, all with only half of the fingers on one hand seeing as you lost them through frostbite on a polar expedition. So Ranulph is a truly inspiring man and deserves the title he has been handed of "The World’s Greatest Living Explorer."
If he returns to Theatre Severn, do not miss out. Check out what else is on at the Theatre or call them on 01743 281281.
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