An Interview with Sir Ranulph Fiennes

This week I was asked if I would like to interview Sir Ranulph Finnes, explorer, writer and adventurer. I jumped at the chance, especially when I learned that it was to promote his latest challenge, running Marathon des Sables where he is aiming to raise £2.5 million for Marie Curie. This is a charity which helped us as a family hugely last year when my grandma was dying from cancer, the Marie Curie specialist nurse was absolutely incredible. She gave us her time, effort and nothing was too much trouble. There was help with anything we wanted and advice. When grandma died, the follow-up care for us was also amazing.

Sir Ranulph never met his father or his grandfather. His father died in action during the second world war. He, along with his father, were Sir Ranulph's childhood heroes, and hugely influenced his views on what he would like to be when he grew up. He wanted to be Commander of the Royal Scots Greys, just like his father. He served for the Royal Scot Greys regiment, but sadly realised that if he did not have the qualifications to become a commander. When questioned, Sir Ranulph said that he regrets not having gained A-levels which would have enabled him to fulfil his childhood dream of following in his father's footsteps.

Sir Ranulph Fiennes
He met his first wife at the age of twelve when she lived next door. They were married for thirty-four years before she died in 2004, from stomach cancer aged only 56. This was the first contact Sir Ranulph had with Marie Curie. He felt that the NHS and also the hospice were fantastic. Marie Curie a charity where everything raised goes directly to that charity.

After double-bypass heart surgery in 2003, Sir Ranulph felt that he had been given a new lease of life and he is hugely grateful to the NHS A&E ward and his exceptional surgeon. Le Marathon des Sables will put an intense stain on his heart and he is all too aware of the exponential effect of heat and age. Indeed, he is acutely aware that as he gets older, he has had to learn to deal with challenges by realising that it is possible to overdo it! Ten years ago he would run a marathon, five years ago he would jog, now he shuffles! He also prefers the kind of challenge which is announced only once he has achieved it! That way he doesn't let anyone down and there is less embarrassment if he fails.

He now has an eight year old daughter, and when I asked how he explained his fundraising to her when she was younger, he said that she wasn't interested at all! She likes ballet and Lego, but doesn't ask about his expeditions. 

Sir Ranulph gave me some tips for parents wanting to encourage their children to explore. The first is that parents need to be involved, both in getting children outside, but also in choosing holiday destinations, and making sure you don't just stay in the complex, but get out and explore together. As children get older, he would recommend doing the Duke of Edinburgh Award. After this, the Royal Geographical Society offer an amazing resource for explorers in their late teens and early twenties.

Writing, and thoughts about books fill his brain while he runs, ensuring that he is never bored. I asked what he finds the most fulfilling, challenges, exploration or writing. Sir Ranulph answered that they can all not be fulfilling! Explorations can, and do fail. He only conquered Everest on the third attempt. You cannot be fulfilled by books until they are in the top ten, which is incredibly difficult in the days of declining book sales. He never expects success, but feels that it is a lot to do with luck.

He relaxes by reading and writing, both of which it could be argued are, in fact, work! Very rarely has he found it difficult to adjust to normal life after such epic adventures. Indeed, only when he had been on a three year expedition did he encounter any adjustment, and that was only because he found traffic rather startling when he returned.

My final question was about legacies, examining the legacy Marie Curie has left for others and asking what he would like his to be. "On my gravestone I would like 'he raised £20 million', although am currently at just over £16 million". Add to that the 2.5 million he hopes to raise for Marie Curie completing Marathon des Sables, he certainly isn't far off that target!

Sir Ranulph Fiennes is taking part in the Marathon des Sables, ‘the toughest footrace on earth’, which is a six day, 156 mile run through the Moroccan desert in temperatures exceeding 120°F or 50°C. He will have to carry everything he needs for the challenge including food and water. The race takes place from the 5th to the 11th of April 2015, one month after Sir Ranulph Fiennes' 71st birthday. If he completes the challenges, he will be the oldest Briton ever to have done so. He aims to raise 2.5 million for Marie Curie.

Marie Curie provides free care and support to people living with a terminal illness and their families. Marie Curie nurses work night and day, in people’s homes across the UK, providing hands-on care and vital emotional support. The charity also has nine hospices which offer specialist round-the-clock care. The charity also helps people throughout their illness by giving practical information, support from trained volunteers and being there when someone wants to talk.

For more information visit Marie Curie's website.

You can support Sir Ranulph in his fundraising by visiting or Text RUN to 70007 to donate £5, you can also include a message of support to Sir Ranulph in this text. You can also donate below.