Children and staff at Hatherop Castle School were recently thrilled to welcome broadcaster, writer and adventurer, Ben Fogle to their school to take part in a question and answer interview called ‘Cool Conversation’.
Ben, who was appearing at the Wyvern Theatre in Swindon as part of his UK tour ‘Tales from the Wilderness’, had been invited to Hatherop Castle by mountaineer, Kenton Cool, who had led the expedition that saw Ben summit Mt Everest in 2018. Kenton’s daughter, Saffron, attends the school and was asked by Headteacher, Nigel Reed, to put together interesting questions to ask the famous guest.
During the hour long interview, Ben told Saffron how her daddy, Kenton, had instilled in him a positive mindset to help confront his fear of heights. Ben said: “I suffer from vertigo, but having a great team of Sherpas and Kenton helped me overcome my fears.”
Ben also described his non-stop 3,000 mile journey across the Atlantic rowing in a 21 foot boat with Olympic gold medallist, James Cracknell. He told the story of how they had had a close encounter with a huge whale that lifted up their boat to use the barnacles on the underside to scratch its back! Ben said that it wasn’t scary at all. He and James enjoyed having the company of the whale after being alone for so long.
Another adventure with James Cracknell was the race to the South Pole with long 18 hour days, very little sleep and temperatures getting down to -60°C. Ben and James were joined on this Antarctica trip by Cirencester doctor, Ed Coats, who was successfully selected from 1,000 applicants after interviews were conducted in the Cotswold Water Park.
In answer to some of Saffron’s interesting questions, Ben explained that he loved being a dad and sharing his experiences with his children, Iona and Ludovic. He is also a lover of Marmite and is one of only a handful of people in the world who has extra strong taste-buds good enough to be a Marmite taster! Whilst spending a whole year on an island in the Outer Hebrides completely cut off from the outside world, Ben chose as his luxury item to take with him a black Labrador puppy called Inca. She became his best friend. On another expedition, he took a copy of the Chinese dictionary thinking that he would learn Chinese, but this didn’t happen!
So what is left for the intrepid explorer to do? He said: “I’ve always dreamed of sailing round the world, but I can’t do it yet. It would take me away from the family for too long.”
Ben’s advice to his young audience: “I would urge you to have confidence – confidence in yourself. Confidence is necessary to get on in life and is better to have than passing an exam.”