This year our medals and awards recognise 23 different people or organisations for their outstanding contributions to geographical research, fieldwork and teaching, and public engagement.
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. The Royal Medals are 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, Professor Diana Liverman 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 Society, 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.”
Thank you to all Fellows and members who nominated individuals for our awards this year.
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