At the SES Explorer Awards presentation evening held at Imperial College, London on Tuesday 22nd May 2018, Emily Penn (recipient of the SES Eric Hotung Medal 2018) asked the audience "What is your super-power?" All nine of the Award recipients demonstrated their 'super power' in different ways, but the common denominator was their quite inspirational passion and commitment to their chosen area of interest.
SES Chairman Neil Laughton began the evening by introducing the brilliant new SES fundraising film, kindly supported by Sean and Mary Reimer Hotung, with a call to arms featuring Neil, SES Founder and Honorary President John Blashford-Snell, and many supporters and friends all conveying the essential role the Society has today in encouraging scientific exploration. Andrew Mitchell remarked that this year the female Award recipients out-weighed the male recipients, a reversal to last years’ winners.
It was a pleasure to welcome Anirban Dutta Gupta, winner of the SES Neville Shulman Film Award 2017 from India to show his beautiful film capturing the traditional honey collecting by the Jarawa people on the Andaman Islands.
John Blashford-Snell presented SES Eric Hotung Medal 2018 to Emily Penn, in recognition of her outstanding contribution to scientific exploration. Emily and colleagues have tirelessly campaigned against plastic pollution in our oceans for over 10 years, and in the last 6 months her efforts have at last been rewarded as the issue has garnered the wide reaching interest it deserves.
Vanessa O’Brien, receiving the inaugural SES Explorer of the Year medal following her ascent of K2 last July, gave a spell-binding account of the challenges faced during her three-year attempt to reach her goal. Statistics were against her; for every 20 people who climb Everest, 4 climb K2; for every 4 who climb K2, 1 loses their life in the process; 3 times Vanessa tried to climb. Each time, she got one camp higher and that gave hope, and finally in July 2017 she reached the summit. Vanessa also highlighted the important role mountaineers play in scientific exploration - the ‘boots on the ground’ who can collect unique data at the troposphere from the most extreme locations. Don’t miss the chance to hear more about Vanessa’s fantastic achievement on Tuesday 30th October (tickets available on Eventbrite).
The SES Global Achievement Award was presented to Mark Beaumont, in recognition of his making the impossible ‘possible’ and cycling the world in an incredible 78 days, 14 hours and 40 minutes. Mark began by paying tribute to the passion and community spirit of the SES and all those receiving Awards during the evening before going on to explain how he set out to form a mental, physical and logistical plan to circumnavigate the globe in 80 days. ‘What is your 80 days?’ Mark’s philosophy is to have the confidence to know your capability, think big, set your plan and deliver. No margin for error, just an inspirational dogged determination to succeed and incredible belief in himself and the team.
It was an outstanding evening, extraordinary people demonstrating their ‘super power’. Andrew Mitchell invited all fortunate enough to be there to stay with the SES Awards journey, and with the passion and brilliance of the evening’s winners, share his belief that with 'Pioneers with Purpose' such as those we heard on the night, we can see the world back into equilibrium.
A warm thank you to all the Award Supporters, Assessors, Applicants, Winners, the Team at SES Expedition Base, and all who contributed to the Awards journey through the year culminating in the presentation evening. Thank you also to Leatherman and TexEnergy for their generous gifts to the winners and for the raffle prizes.