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Frank Gardner
Born Frank Rolleston Gardner
31 July 1961 (1961-07-31) (age 48)
 UK
Education University of Exeter
Occupation Journalist
Spouse(s) Amanda Jane Pearson (1997-present)
Children 2
Notable credit(s) BBC Six O'Clock News

Frank Rolleston Gardner OBE (born 31 July 1961) is a British journalist and correspondent. He is currently the BBC's Security Correspondent. He was appointed an OBE in 2005 for his services to journalism.

Contents

Background

Gardner's father and mother were both diplomats and aged six he moved from the UK to the Hague in the Netherlands. The excitement of travel to a foreign country left a lasting impression. Educated at Saint Ronan's School, an independent junior school in Hawkhurst, Kent, in England, and later at Marlborough College, an independent school in Marlborough, Wiltshire, teachers pushed Gardner into taking up biathlon, which enabled him to travel to Austria to train with the British Army biathlon team. [1]

Aged 16, Gardner and his mother had met the Arabian explorer Sir Wilfred Thesiger (whom his mother knew previously) on a bus. Invited to the explorer's home in Chelsea, the initially reluctant Gardner fell in love with Arabia. Partly as a result and partly reasoning that knowing the Arabic language would make him recruitable in 22 countries many of which had oil, he determined to study Arabic language[1]

In his gap year Gardner went backpacking to Greece, where working in a boring job at a restaurant he spotted an advert for a £100 one way ticket to Manila in the Philippines which he took and spent time with the tribal people. [1]

He returned to study at the University of Exeter.[1][2]

Between 1984 and 1990 he served as a Territorial Army officer in the 4th Battalion the Royal Green Jackets.[3]

After a nine year career in banking as an investment banker with Saudi International Bank and then Robert Fleming Bank from 1986 until 1995, a promotion in Bahrain resulted in his not liking his career, and he took the plunge into journalism, working for BBC World.BBC NEWS | UK | Profile: Frank Gardner</ref>

Journalism

In 1995 he joined BBC World as a producer and reporter, and became the BBC's first full-time Gulf correspondent in 1998, setting up an office in Dubai. In 2000 Gardner was appointed BBC Middle East correspondent in charge of the bureau in Cairo, but traveled throughout the region. After September 11, 2001 attacks on New York, from 2002 Gardner specialised solely in covering stories related to the so-called War on Terror.

  • "He was always cut out for journalism. When Kuwait was liberated, he was there with his camera, doing a piece like a reporter. He's a good communicator, incredibly good at thinking on his feet, knows how to handle situations spontaneously and comes across really well. I met him studying Arabic and Islamic Studies at Exeter University and described him as incredibly widely-travelled, especially in the Middle East. In one year he travelled to 28 countries. He's the sort of guy who will get through a passport because he runs out of room," said friend of 25 years Anthony Campanale.[4]

On 6 June 2004, while reporting from a suburb of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Gardner was shot six times and seriously injured in an attack by al-Qaeda sympathisers.[5] His colleague Irish cameraman Simon Cumbers was shot dead. Of the bullets which hit Gardner in his torso (others passed through his shoulder and leg) most missed his major organs yet one hit his spinal nerves and he was left partly paralysed in the legs and dependant on a wheelchair for life. The Saudi Arabian government had forced Gardner to use official minders, who ran away once the firing started. The Saudi government promised compensation but in the end they never paid.  [1]

After 14 operations, 7 months in hospital and months of rehabilitation he returned to reporting for the BBC in mid-2005, using a wheelchair or a frame.[6] Despite his injury, he still occasionally reports from the field including places like Afghanistan[7] but usually comments on top stories from a BBC studio.

Awards

In 2005, for services to journalism, he was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire as part of the Queen's Birthday Honours. He has been awarded Honorary Doctorates of Laws by Nottingham, Staffordshire, Exeter, East Anglia and Open Universities, the McWhirter Award for Bravery, Spain’s El Mundo Prize for International Journalism, the Zayed Medal for Journalism and voted Person of the Year by the UK Press Gazette. He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and his Sunday Times bestseller ‘Blood and Sand’, describing his 25 years of Middle Eastern experiences, was published by Transworld in 2006. His new book, Far Horizons, about unusual journeys to unusual places, was published in May 2009.

Hobbies

A keen skier, after his spinal injury Gardner resumed skiing using a bobski (also called a sit-ski), which is device that allows disabled people to ski while seated, after attending a British Army training course for disabled skiers. He is also an avid birdwatcher[8], and presented a September 2009 Archive Hour programme on Sir Peter Scott[8].

Private Life

He is married to Amanda Jane Pearson and the couple have two daughters, Melissa and Sasha. The family lives in London.

Bibliography

  • Blood and Sand, 2006 ISBN 978-0553817713
  • Far Horizons, 2009 ISBN 978-0593059685

References

  1. ^ a b c d e BBC Radio 4 - Excess Baggage, 9 May 2009
  2. ^ Frank Gardner (2003-08-31). "Memories of a veteran explorer". BBC News Online. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/3191451.stm.  
  3. ^ BBC News Online | UK | Tributes and concern for BBC men
  4. ^ BBC NEWS | UK | Profile: Frank Gardner
  5. ^ The Times article on the shooting
  6. ^ http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/index.php?menuID=2&subID=1726&p=2 The people that talk about terror
  7. ^ BBC NEWS | World | South Asia | Muslim troops help win Afghan minds
  8. ^ a b Anderson, Jane (2009-09-19). "The Archive Hour - Scott Of Slimbridge". Radio Times.  

External links

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