Ranulph Fiennes takes spirit of adventure to Kowloon school

Ranulph Fiennes faces a different kind of challenge as children quiz him on his exploits

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 24 June, 2013, 5:33am

It's been a long time since Ranulph Fiennes was at school, but the world's greatest living explorer seemed to be right at home with students from Beacon Hill School in Kowloon as he took to the stage there last week to share anecdotes from his long career.

Fiennes, 69, recounted many of his record-breaking exploits to a hall full of primary school children who appeared knowledgable about his achievements and who at times peppered the British explorer with difficult questions. One child even asked Fiennes when he planned to retire, only to be told he had no plans to take a "step back".

In an internal newsletter, the school's head of arts, Merry Hamilton, said: "We were indeed very privileged to be the only school in Hong Kong to have a visit by Sir Ranulph Fiennes. He inspired the students to continue to take action from their learning throughout their own lives."

In February, Fiennes took part in the "Coldest Journey", an expedition with a team aiming to become the first to cross the Antarctic land mass during the polar winter, but he had to be evacuated from the continent after suffering severe frostbite.

The remaining team members continued, but were forced to abandon the mission on June 18 after entering a "horrific [crevasse field]". The crossing was being made in pitch-dark, and Fiennes said the risks would have led to an international rescue if the team had carried on.

He also hit back at critics who suggested the mission was impossible.

"If you'd had that attitude, humans wouldn't have gone to the moon," he said.

He revealed to the South China Morning Post that despite concerns among medical experts, he does not have diabetes, but is on the threshold.

And despite the health scares and advancing years, the veteran hasn't ruled out a second attempt at a winter Antarctic crossing.

Since returning from Antarctica, Fiennes has spent more time on educational and charitable work. He is aiming to raise HK$116 million for charity Seeing is Believing, which works to tackle avoidable blindness.

Fiennes' most celebrated missions include reaching the Arctic and Antarctic on foot. Over his career he has raised £14 million (HK$168 million) for charitable causes.