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Prize fighter Sir Ranulph Fiennes talks to The Courier ahead of Antarctica mission

November 21 2012

At the age of 68 Sir Ranulph Fiennes is about to embark on a 2,000-mile expedition across Antarctica in midwinter. One hundred years ago Captain Scott reached the South Pole. The return journey claimed his life. Scott was travelling in what passes for summertime in Antarctica. He was 43 years old and in peak condition. At 68 Sir Ranulph Fiennes will be making the same journey in the dead of winter, when permanent darkness shrouds the desolate land and temperatures can dip to -90. He will attempt it having lost the top third of all the digits on his left hand to frostbite and having suffered multiple heart attacks, one of which saw him resuscitated no fewer than 13 times and another that occurred 1,000 feet below the summit of Everest. He will pass his 69th birthday in the world's most hostile environment during its most savage season, attempting to do what no one else has done and claim the last great prize in exploration crossing the Antarctic in midwinter. Ahead of a talk at this week's Dundee Mountain Film Festival, Sir Ranulph has spoken to The Courier and revealed why, despite all the risks, he is not scared.For more, see Thursday's Courier. Sir Ranulph Fiennes will be speaking at Dundee Mountain Film Festival at 9pm on Friday.Photo by John Stillwell/PA Wire

Motoring news

Audi’s new Q cars

April 12 2017

Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...

UK & World

Gallery: Captain Scott’s ill-fated polar expedition

March 14 2014

Explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes has backed a campaign to preserve the negatives of photographs taken by Captain Scott on his ill-fated final Antarctic expedition. Explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes has backed a campaign to preserve the negatives of photographs taken by Captain Scott on his ill-fated final Antarctic expedition.

UK & World

Sir Ranulph Fiennes out of Antarctic adventure

February 25 2013

Sir Ranulph Fiennes has pulled out of an expedition across Antarctica in winter because of frostbite. The 68-year-old was injured after a fall while skiing during training at a base camp in Antarctica. He developed frostbite after using his bare hands to fix a ski binding in temperatures of around minus 30C. Sir Ranulph will now leave the Coldest Journey expedition but organisers said his evacuation to South Africa was being hampered by blizzard conditions. Despite the Somerset-based explorer's withdrawal his team-mates will continue with the 2,000-mile (3,219km) trek. A spokesman said: "We regret to announce that Sir Ranulph Fiennes has developed a case of frostbite. "The condition is such that he has very reluctantly decided with the support of the team doctor and in the interests of the success of the expedition and its associated aims, to withdraw from Antarctica while the possibility to do so still exists, before the onset of the Antarctic winter. "This decision has not been taken lightly and it is, naturally, a huge disappointment to Fiennes and his colleagues." The team is attempting to evacuate Sir Ranulph by transporting him by skidoo to the Princess Elisabeth Station, about 43 miles (70km) away from his current position. From there he will be flown to Novo to get a connecting flight to Cape Town. "The remaining expedition members, under the experienced leadership of the traverse manager Brian Newham, have unanimously elected to continue with the winter crossing of Antarctica and will undertake the scientific and educational aspects of the project as originally planned, with its humanitarian benefits," the spokesman said. "This view is supported by the board of trustees. "The expedition has reached the point where they can readily establish a supply depot on the Antarctic plateau. This puts them in an excellent position to start the crossing as scheduled on March 21." The spokesman added: "Sir Ranulph remains fully dedicated to the project. "As soon as his injuries permit, he will continue to support The Coldest Journey by fundraising and promoting awareness of Seeing is Believing, the expedition's chosen charity, which is committed to eradicating preventable blindness in the developing world." The trek is known as The Coldest Journey on Earth. No human being has managed to walk across Antarctica in winter. The team will face some of the toughest conditions on earth - near permanent darkness and temperatures dropping close to minus 90C. The expedition - from the Russian base of Novolazarevskaya to the Ross Sea - is expected to take six months. The journey is to benefit Seeing is Believing, a charity which tackles avoidable blindness.

UK & World

Sir Ranulph Fiennes ‘overtaking younger racers’ in Marathon des Sables

April 6 2015

Sir Ranulph Fiennes' coach has revealed the 71-year-old explorer is overtaking people a quarter of his age during the Marathon des Sables. Sir Ranulph is facing temperatures of more than 50C (122F) and endless sand dunes in the challenge, dubbed the toughest footrace on Earth. He hopes to raise £2.5 million for UK charity Marie Curie by taking part. His coach Rory Coleman told BBC Breakfast: "He is overtaking lots of people who are a quarter of his age, not just half his age. It's remarkable he's doing this at 71." But Sir Ranulph said he was trying to "subdue" his competitive side to ensure he had enough energy to finish the race. He said: "I rely on Rory, uncle Rory, to get it right and make sure I don't go too fast, which is a competitional [sic] element you've got to subdue, because it gets worse and worse and worse. "Yesterday I thought was very difficult, but it's nothing compared with the next day, and the next day and the next day, so you've got to stop any form of competition if you're going to compete at a certain age." The explorer, who turned 71 in March and is battling diabetes, said enduring blisters and the heat was the toughest part of the challenge. He said: "I'm OK in the cold but I don't like the hot very much... I'm also finding that the blister situation is new, you've got to keep plastering stuff on, be sure of no sunburn. "I really need to complete it because we are desperate to raise lots of money for Marie Curie, and without completion of course you don't raise so much money." The Marathon des Sables in Morocco covers 251 kilometres (155 miles) including the distance of a marathon a day and a double marathon one day, with runners carrying everything they need on their backs. Sir Ranulph received a message from the Prince of Wales wishing him the very best of luck before taking part in the race. He hopes the money raised will help Marie Curie provide more free care and support to people living with a terminal illness.


War correspondent Kate Adie helps mark Dundee association’s 25th literary dinner

November 8 2013

The Scottish Federation of University Women’s Dundee Association has held its literary dinner at the Invercarse Hotel. The 25th annual literary dinner welcomed guest speakers BBC journalist Kate Adie, known for her war zone reporting, and Louise Welsh, Glasgow-based author of short stories and psychological thrillers. Kate Adie spoke at the event 10 years ago and was invited back to help celebrate the anniversary. Over the years the association has enjoyed hearing from a variety of speakers, including Mary Berry, Gordon Brown, Alexander McColl Smith, Magnus Magnusson, and six years later his daughter Sally, Tanni Grey Thomson, Ranulph Fiennes, Katharine Whitehorn and Joan Bakewell.

UK & World

Sir Ranulph Fiennes frustrated after frostbite cost him Antarctic adventure

March 5 2013

Sir Ranulph Fiennes said he was “frustrated” at being forced to pull out of an expedition across Antarctica because of frostbite. The 68-year-old was injured in a fall while skiing during training at a base camp in Antarctica and developed frostbite after taking off his outer gloves to fix a ski binding in temperatures of around minus 33C. It has forced Sir Ranulph to quit the Coldest Journey expedition, which has been five years in the planning, but he will continue to support the project through fundraising. Although Sir Ranulph has had to give up the challenge, his team-mates will continue with the 2,000-mile trek, which they are expected to embark on later this month. Hailed as the last great polar challenge, the journey across the Antarctic has never been attempted during the winter. The team will experience some of the toughest conditions on earth near permanent darkness and temperatures as low as minus 90C during their six-month journey. Describing how he felt at having to pull out, Sir Ranulph said: “It is extremely frustrating. I started working on this expedition five years ago. “I’ve been working on it and nothing else full time and unpaid for five years so it is definitely frustrating but unavoidable and I will make the best of it by putting my focus full time on to making my focus entirely on the expedition team.” Sir Ranulph said the other aims of the challenge were to carry out “intense”scientific research and for an educational programme, but above all to raise money for the charity Seeing Is Believing which is committed to eradicating preventable blindness in the developing world.


VIDEO: Sir Ranulph Fiennes interview coup for Baldragon Academy school radio

June 5 2014

Baldragon Academy pupils are setting out on an adventure of the airwaves today when they broadcast an exclusive interview with explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes. Before speaking at the Caird Hall on Wednesday night, the adventurer took time to talk to young people involved in the Dundee school’s radio station, BBG1. The interview covers a range of stories from Mr Fiennes’ remarkable career, including his 52,000-mile circumnavigation of the world via both poles. The interview is broadcast at 1.30pm, on 107.5 FM, and online at baldragon.ea.dundeecity.sch.uk. Now in its eighth year, BBG1 is designed to give pupils an opportunity to gain experience in the world of radio production and broadcast. Andrew McArtney, principal teacher in charge of BBG1, said: “The station inspires confidence in the pupils who take part.” Interviews with Commonwealth Games judo hopeful Patrick Dawson, and Scottish international hockey player Becky Ward are also lined up.

Road tests

Audi Q2 puts quality over size

March 21 2018

Audi’s Q2 was one of the first premium compact SUVs on the market. It sits below the Q3, Q5 and the gigantic, seven seat Q7 in Audi’s ever growing range. Although it’s about the same size as the Nissan Juke or Volkswagen T-Roc, its price is comparable with the much larger Nissan X-Trail or Volkswagen Tiguan. Even a basic Q2 will set you back more than £21,000 and top whack is £38,000. Then there’s the options list which is extensive to say the least. My 2.0 automatic diesel Quattro S Line model had a base price of £30,745 but tipped the scales at just over £40,000 once a plethora of additions were totted up. Size isn’t everything, however. In recent years there’s been a trend of buyers wanting a car that’s of premium quality but compact enough to zip around town. It may be a step down in size but the Q2 doesn’t feel any less classy than the rest of Audi’s SUV range. The interior looks great and is user friendly in a way that more mainstream manufacturers have never been able to match. The simple rotary dial and shortcut buttons easily trounce touchscreen systems, making it a cinch to skim through the screen’s menus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eQ5p5Z7-Ek&list=PLUEXizskBf1nbeiD_LqfXXsKooLOsItB0 There’s a surprising amount of internal space too. I took three large adults from Dundee to Stirling and no one complained about feeling cramped. As long as you don’t have a tall passenger behind a tall driver you can easily fit four adults. At 405 litres the boot’s big too – that’s 50 litres more than a Nissan Juke can muster. Buyers can pick from 1.0 and 1.4 litre petrol engines or 1.6 and 2.0 litre TDIs. Most Q2s are front wheel drive but Audi’s Quattro system is standard on the 2.0 diesel, as is a seven-speed S Tronic gear box. On the road there’s a clear difference between this and SUVs by manufacturers like Nissan, Seat and Ford. Ride quality, while firm, is tremendously smooth. Refinement is excellent too, with road and tyre noise kept out of the cabin. It sits lower than the Q3 or Q5 and this improves handling, lending the Q2 an almost go-kart feel. On a trip out to Auchterhouse, with plenty of snow still on the ground, I was appreciative of the four-wheel drive as well. The Q2 is expensive – though there are some good finance deals out there – but you get what you pay for. Few cars this small feel as good as the Q2 does. Price: £30,745 0-62mph: 8.1 seconds Top speed: 131mph Economy: 58.9mpg CO2 emissions: 125g/km


World explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes hails Dundee Heritage Trust’s efforts

April 5 2016

The world’s greatest living explorer has praised Dundee Heritage Trust for the “pivotal role” it has played in transforming the city’s fortunes. In a foreword to a new history of the trust’s work over the past 20 years, the charity’s patrons Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Lorraine Kelly and Brian Cox pay tribute to the work it has carried out over the past 30 years. As well as bringing RRS Discovery back to Dundee in 1986, the trust has overseen the restoration of tourist attraction Verdant Works. The history, written by the trust’s honorary president Professor Stewart Brymer, discusses the challenges faced by the trust since 1996 and its plans for the future. In their foreword, Sir Ranulph, Lorraine Kelly and Brian Cox praise the trust for the “heroic challenge” it took on in restoring the Discovery and preserving Dundee’s industrial heritage. They write: “Dundee has transformed itself in the 30 years since Dundee Heritage Trust was formed and the city is now well-placed to benefit from the regeneration of the historic waterfront area. “Dundee Heritage Trust has been at the very centre of the transformation as the city’s premier visitor attraction. “From our different perspectives, we are able to offer an objective assessment of the extent of the change that has taken place in Dundee and, in particular, the pivotal role that Dundee Heritage Trust has played in that change.” The trust was originally formed to preserve the city’s industrial heritage but switched its focus to lead the campaign to bring Discovery back to Dundee. It is 30 years ago this week since the ship, which was originally built in Dundee, returned to the city. Professor Brymer has been involved in the trust since its inception and has previously written about its first 10 years in operation. His new history concludes that it will remain an important part of the city over the next 30 years. He concludes: “Experiences in the 30-year period since the launch of the trust can, however, give us faith that Dundee Heritage Trust will continue to play a central role in helping determine the city’s success. “It has contributed greatly to this objective without ever being asked to do so. The contribution was made because it seemed like the right thing to do. “That was achieved without a long-term vision and strategic plan as to how it would be developed.”