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Rosie is a British explorer and polar adventurer who, since 1996, has embarked on major polar expeditions of increasing severity and commitment. The SES was thrilled to award her with the Hotung Award for Women's Exploration 2017.



Dee Caffari MBE has sailed around the world six times. She is the first woman to have sailed single-handed and non-stop around the world in both directions and the only woman to have sailed non-stop around the world a total of three times.

Dee led ‘Turn the Tide on Plastic’ – the first mixed gender youth team to compete in the Ocean Race (formerly Volvo Ocean Race) 2017/18; with a strong sustainability message. The issue of single use plastic in our oceans gained huge momentum and has inspired many people to ‘take action’ in their day to day lives. Dee continues to be an advocate for ocean health and to highlight the vital importance of reducing our dependence on plastics.

Outside of sailing, Dee continues to showcase her talents as a presenter and on the motivational speaker circuit. Dee also spends time supporting her chosen charities and is Chair of the World Sailing Trust, a new global charity that will promote the health of oceans and grow participation of the sport to protect its future.

Photo of Dee Caffari by Charlie Clift.


Captain Louis Rudd MBE served for 34 years in the military, he joined at the age of 16 and rose through the ranks to Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) before commissioning as an Officer.

Louis’ first trip to Antarctica was in 2011/12 on the Scott/Amundsen Centenary Race Expedition. His team skied 800 miles over 67 days unsupported from the Bay of Whales, up the Axel Heiberg Glacier to the South Pole, following the original route of the Norwegian Roald Amundsen.

In 2016/17 he led a team of five Army Reservists on a 67-day, 1,100-mile traverse of Antarctica. The SPEAR17 Expedition started at Hercules Inlet, skied 700 miles unsupported to the South Pole, collected a re-supply and then crossed the Titan Dome and descended the Shackleton Glacier before arriving on the Ross Ice Shelf. The expedition won multiple awards and in 2018 Louis was awarded an MBE for his leadership on the journey. In May 2018 Louis guided a team of five civilian friends on a 570km west to east traverse of the Greenland Ice Sheet. Despite challenging weather, the team completed the crossing in 27 days. In 2018/19 he undertook the ‘Spirit of Endurance’ expedition, a 56-day, 920-mile solo unsupported crossing of the Antarctic land mass, becoming the first Briton and second in the world to complete this journey. He is the first person to traverse Antarctica twice on foot.


Andrew Mitchell’s association with SES started as a young Bristol University science graduate. First assignment: setting-up projects for Operation Drake, a global two-year expedition. First stop: Panama where Andrew devised an elevated system of aerial walkways – to this day regarded as an unrivalled method to study the rainforest canopy.

A conservative estimate is that Andrew has given 45 years of advice to SES alongside which he managed to fit in a remarkable “other career”. He co-founded the Earthwatch Institute managing 130 field research projects in 30 countries as Vice President of Programme Development and International Relations, before founding Global Canopy, a ground-breaking non-profit, environmental think-tank based in Oxford striving to influence and enable transformative change towards a global deforestation-free economy.

In 2009, HRH The Prince of Wales asked for Andrew’s help and, working closely together for years, they initiated The Prince’s Rainforests Project. Andrew is also an advisor to the United Nations on climate change and the inclusion of reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation in the UN climate regime. Andrew bases himself at Green Templeton College, Oxford where he is an Emeritus Rufford Fellow in Environmental Understanding.

Photo of Andrew Mitchell by Matthew Ferguson (FG Studios).




Mark Beaumont cycled into Paris having circumnavigated the globe. He completed the epic Artemis World Cycle in 78 days, 14 hours and 40 minutes, breaking the world record by a staggering 44 days. It was through his vision, ambition, physical and psychological endurance abilities and the clockwork precision of his logistical planning, that he was able to complete this outstanding achievement. It is for the sheer enormity of the challenge, for making the impossible ‘possible’ and for the style and determination shown by him and his support team that SES was delighted to present Mark with SES Lifetime Achievement 2018.

Photo by Johnny Swane Poel - Mark Beaumont - Day 79 - Arc de Triomphe - Victory



Emily Penn is an architect turned ocean advocate and skipper. After rounding the globe on a record-breaking bio-fuelled boat, she spent eight years at sea, exploring and discovering oceanic gyres – huge areas of plastic accumulation. Emily co-founded Pangaea Explorations, an organisation dedicated to marine education, conservation and exploration via a 72ft sailing vessel. Emily’s commitment to understand and inspire local and large-scale community involvement in tackling the issue of ocean plastic pollution is tireless, and it is for that reason that she was selected to receive the prestigious Hotung Award for Women's Exploration 2018 for her outstanding contribution to scientific exploration.

Photo by Emmanuel Lubezki - Emily Penn at sea


Dual national Vanessa O’Brien became the first British-American woman to successfully conquer K2, the world’s second highest mountain, after a gruelling 16 hour summit push where she encountered deep snow, howling winds and temperatures down to -40 degrees centigrade. This was Vanessa’s third consecutive year attempting K2, and her team’s dedication and persistence paid-off as they became the only team to summit in 2017, following two years of no summits on K2. At the summit, Vanessa proudly displayed British, American and Pakistani flags – representing her homes and her host country – as well as that of UN Women. In recognition of her outstanding grit, determination and ultimately successful expedition, Vanessa was selected to be SES Explorer 2018.


SES organises a wide range of events and socials throughout the year for its members and friends to enjoy, which include Explorer Talks, Charity Evenings and the annual Explorer Awards Presentation Evening. The aim is to enable a like-minded community of people, who are interested in learning about and conserving the world in which we live, to meet and hear stories from explorers and adventurers doing extraordinary things. Tickets to ALL SES events and socials, whether FREE or paying, are available on EVENTBRITE.


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SES Explorer Talks

Our Explorer Talks take place on the last Tuesday of every month (except May, July, August, November & December), are currently held at the Coopers Arms (Chelsea) and are FREE to SES members and £10 general admission. They provide a relaxed and informal setting for guests to enjoy an interesting talk from an inspirational speaker … and a few drinks! We have been lucky to enjoy talks from mountaineer Vanessa O’Brien, Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions Steve Jones, adventurer, writer and speaker Charlie Walker and wildlife conservationist James Glancy CGC, to name a few. Take a look at Eventbrite to see who we have booked for 2020!

SES Charity Evenings

We host at least one Charity Evening a year which generally takes place at the Royal Geographical Society (Kensington). Speakers at these events have included Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Levison Wood and Dee Caffari MBE.

SES Explorer Awards Presentation Evening

Our Explorer Awards Presentation Evening is our flagship event of the year and is a celebration of scientific endeavour and inspirational leadership where we present Explorer Awards to future rising stars in the field of global, scientific exploration. This event takes place in May each year and guests not only get to see young explorers receiving their awards but also three outstanding individuals, who have achieved great things and whose passion, determination and grit are an inspiration to us all, receiving their Honorary Awards.