Echoing SES’s long history of worldwide exploration and pioneering leadership, the Society’s quest to encourage Scientific Trailblazers and Pioneers with Purpose is the primary focus of the Explorer Awards, which support inspirational leaders through scientific exploration at the frontiers of human discovery. SES aims to encourage and enhance chosen careers by providing high profile Awards for projects that will also leave a lasting legacy and benefit. We seek rising stars whose passion for environmental sustainability, health and conservation set them out to become major influencers for future generations.


Our Explorers will be prepared to take on monumental physical, logistical and global challenges and will share the values of grit, curiosity, integrity and leadership that pioneers like SES Founder Colonel John Blashford-Snell exemplify.


SES is delighted to announce that there are SIX Explorer Awards available for trailblazing explorers in 2019 and the closing date for Stage 1 applications is Monday 26th November 2018.

NEVILLE SHULMAN EXPLORER AWARD FOR EXPEDITION FILMMAKING – an Award of £7,000 and the exclusive right to become the NEVILLE SHULMAN EXPLORER for a year

This Award is to support projects focusing on the intangible and/or tangible heritage in a foreign land. The applicant should be someone who has filmmaking experience and is either organising or closely involved in the planning of a scientific and/or geographical expedition. The recipient will produce a short film in order to communicate the expedition journey and results to a wider audience. APPLY HERE.

RIVERS FOUNDATION EXPLORER AWARD FOR HEALTH AND HUMANITIES – an Award of £5,000 and the exclusive right to become the RIVERS FOUNDATION EXPLORER for a year

The Rivers Foundation has an interest in development of health and humanities, and would love to hear about projects involving the development of these areas within their expedition. The applicant should be someone who will be leading an expedition combining adventure with a medical and/or humanitarian purpose which benefits communities in deprived and under-developed regions of the world. APPLY HERE.

SIR CHARLES BLOIS EXPLORER AWARD FOR SCIENCE & ADVENTURE – an Award of £5,000 and the exclusive right to become the SIR CHARLES BLOIS EXPLORER for a year

The Sir Charles Blois Explorer Award has been created to support a scientific adventurer and trailblazer. The applicant should be undertaking an adventurous expedition with strong physical requirements, in a challenging environment which aims to produce new scientific, physical or anthropological insight into little known peoples. APPLY HERE.

SES EXPLORER AWARD FOR INSPIRATION & SCIENTIFIC TRAILBLAZING – an Award of at least £3,650 and the exclusive right to become the SES EXPLORER for a year

The Trustees of SES, together with foundations, organisations and individuals wishing to make smaller contributions to SES Explorer Award for Inspiration & Scientific Trailblazing are looking for someone unique. The applicant should be an inspirational Scientific Trailblazer whose expedition has that special ‘something’ be it in terms of the nature of research, the legacy it offers, or any other aspects of the expedition. APPLY HERE.

GOUGH EXPLORER AWARD FOR MEDICAL AID & RESEARCH – an Award of £4,000 and the exclusive right to become the GOUGH EXPLORER for a year

The Gough Explorer Award has been created to support an individual leading an expedition. The applicant should be clear that the main focus of which is to carry out either medical aid, and or associated research within communities in developing regions of the world. APPLY HERE.

ELODIE SANDFORD EXPLORER AWARD FOR AMATEUR PHOTOGRAPHY – an Award of at least £4,000 and the exclusive right to become the ELODIE SANDFORD EXPLORER for a year

The Elodie Sandford Explorer Award has been created by family and friends in memory of Elodie, an honorary Vice-President of the SES and a keen photographer. The applicant will be an amateur photographer who partakes in an adventurous and innovative project who can demonstrate through their photography, the needs of indigenous people living in a remote area and/or the plight of fauna and flora. APPLY HERE.


We are extremely grateful to the Sponsors for their generous support and here is the printable version of the Explorer Awards 2019.



Would you consider supporting a Scientific Trailblazer or Pioneer with Purpose through the Explorer Awards? There are great opportunities for individuals and organisations alike to encourage, recognise and reward the next generation of outstanding leaders in the world of scientific exploration and sustainability. By supporting a bespoke Award, series of Awards, or contributing to a collective Award, you can support a rising star through their daring journey and scientific research and watch them go on to achieve great and inspirational objectives, whilst carrying their supporters’ name with pride. SES is seeking Award sponsorship of £5,000, £10,000 and £20,000 or contributions of a minimum of £500 towards SES Explorer Award for Inspiration & Scientific Trailblazing.

Core funding opportunities are also available. Please do contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to learn more about the unique opportunity SES offers.


Explorer Awards 2018

Image The SES Explorer Awards 2018 evening was held at 6.30pm (for 7pm) on Tuesday 22nd May at the City and Guilds Building (access via College Main Entrance), Exhibition Road, London SW7 2AZ.

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 Lifetime 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.