2021 medal and award recipients announced today.
Chair of the British Caving Association, Andy Eavis, and Dr Rita Gardner CBE FAcSS, Chief Executive of the Academy of Social Sciences, have been awarded the Society’s two prestigious Royal Medals. These are part of a series of awards that recognise extraordinary achievement in geographical research, fieldwork, teaching, policy, and public engagement.
The Royal Medals, which are of equal standing, have been approved by Her Majesty The Queen, and are among the highest honours of their kind in the world. They have been presented since the 1830s and past recipients include Sir David Attenborough, Dame Fiona Reynolds and Lindsey Hilsum.
Andy Eavis is awarded the 2021 Founder’s Medal for his significant contribution in leading speleological expeditions, exploring and recording some of the largest caves in the world for over 50 years.
Baroness Lynda Chalker, President of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), said: “Andy’s caving discoveries are recognised worldwide and his sustained scientific exploration has pushed the boundaries of technology and endurance. As one of the world’s foremost cave explorers, his international career surveying major cave systems, from Malaysia to China to Brazil, has led to him discovering more new terrain than almost any other individual. And, as this year is the International Year of Caves and Karst, it is fitting to recognise his outstanding accomplishments. He whole heartedly deserves the Society’s highest recognition.”
Andy Eavis said: “I am delighted to receive this award. I feel it is the result of working hard for over 50 years organising caving expeditions, being lucky enough to keep good health, and be supported by wonderful helpers.”
Dr Rita Gardner receives the 2021 Patron’s Medal for her contribution to the widespread advancement of geography across all its sub-disciplines throughout her career, but in particular, through her former role as Director of the Society for over 20 years.
Baroness Chalker said: “Rita has been instrumental in raising the profile and standing of geography nationally and internationally; supporting education, fieldwork and research, raising aspirations and outcomes particularly in schools; sharing and exchanging geographical understanding to engage and inform public and policy audiences; and developing the first professional body for geography and the formal recognition of professional geographers. She is most deserving of the Society’s highest recognition for her leadership and innovation, the breadth and scale of change she has brought about, and what she has enabled for geography and geographers.”
Dr Rita Gardner said: “I am truly delighted to have received this recognition from the geography community. It was a privilege and pleasure to lead the Society through its transformation between 1996 and 2018, creating a powerful champion for geography in education, research, field science, professional life and for the wider public. I see this award as recognition for everyone who helped make the Society what it is today.”
This year the Society’s medals and awards recognise 23 different people or organisations for their outstanding contributions to geography. Among other recipients, photographer, David Coulson, is awarded the Cherry Kearton Medal and Award for the unparalleled documentation of Africa’s remote rock art sites; Dr Emma Mawdsley is awarded the Busk Medal for reframing academic engagements with the global South, and conservationist, Isabella Tree, receives the Ness Award for outstanding communication on the topics of biodiversity and the relationships between humans and the environment.
Notes to editor
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The Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers) is the learned society and professional body for geography. Formed in 1830 for 'the advancement of geographical science', today we deliver this objective through developing, supporting and promoting geographical research, expeditions and fieldwork, education, public engagement, and geography input to policy. We aim to foster an understanding and informed enjoyment of our world. We hold the world's largest private geographical collection and provide public access to it. We have a thriving Fellowship and membership and offer the professional accreditation 'Chartered Geographer’ www.rgs.org
The Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)’s prestigious medals and awards recognise excellence in geographical research and fieldwork, teaching and public engagement. They are presented annually to individuals who have made outstanding achievements. Recipients join a prestigious list that includes Sir Alexander Burnes, David Livingstone, Alfred Russel Wallace, Captain R. Scott and more recently Professor Peter Haggett, Dr Sylvia Earle, Professor Diana Liverman, Sir Crispin Tickell and Sir David Attenborough www.rgs.org/medals
Her Majesty the Queen approves the award of the Royal Medals – the Founder’s Medal and the Patron’s Medal – each year, both of which originated in 1831 as an annual gift of fifty guineas to the Society from King William IV. In 1839, it was agreed this sum should be converted into the two gold medals.
The medals and awards will be presented at a ceremony at the Society in London later in the year once social distancing restrictions have been lifted. Photos taken at the ceremony will be available from the Society’s press office on this date. The full list of medals and awards winners is as follows:
HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN has approved the award of the ROYAL MEDALS as follows:
Royal Medal - Founder’s Medal
Royal Medal - Patron’s Medal
THE SOCIETY’S COUNCIL has made the following awards:
Cherry Kearton Medal and Award
Cuthbert Peek Award
Gill Memorial Award (two awards)
Ordnance Survey Awards (two awards)
Taylor and Francis Award
Alfred Steers Dissertation Prize
Ron Cooke Award
Honorary Fellowship in recognition of outstanding support for the Society and geography
Professor Allan Findlay
Professor John Lewin
Dr John Hemming