Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) honours top geographers

We are delighted that Simon Holland, Head of Faculty for Geography at Bilborough College has received the Ordnance Survey Award.

Commenting on his award Simon said “I am deeply honoured to receive this RGS Ordnance Survey Award. Geography is an amazing, engaging, empowering and ever-changing subject which opens so many doors for young people. It is a real privilege to teach the subject I love every day and share my genuine passion with so many students over the last 18 years of my career. I work hard to open the eyes and minds of my students, encouraging them to fully explore all that the subject has to offer, including engaging with the many wider opportunities on offer to them. In recent years, my students have won awards including the RGS Young Geographer of the Year and the GA award for NEA Proposals. Seeing my students go on the achieve enormous success in their diverse careers, often engaging with Geographical career paths directly and indirectly, including at COP26 for example, is extremely rewarding and inspiring. Receiving this award was a wonderful surprise and I am immensely proud to receive this unexpected recognition for my hard work and huge enthusiasm for Geography education over so many years – without geography you are nowhere!”

You can find out more about the award below.

2023 medal and award recipients announced

Founder of the Global Canopy Programme, Andrew Mitchell, and influential historical geographer Professor Felix Driver, 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 His Majesty the King, 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.

Andrew Mitchell is awarded the 2023 Founder’s Medal for his lifetime’s contribution to protecting tropical rainforests and combating climate change.

Nigel Clifford, President of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), said: “The fact that ‘ecosystem services’, ‘natural capital’ and ‘nature-based solutions’ are now commonplace concepts is in no small part thanks to Andrew’s efforts. His tireless work to protect the tropical rainforests of the world means he wholly deserves this honour. For over 40 years, Andrew has embraced every opportunity to achieve his objective as he moved from the world of scientific research into policy formation, and subsequently tackling the flows of money powering the deforestation economy.”

Andrew Mitchell said: “I am delighted to accept this honour and dedicate it to every leaf, and every branch, and every creature that calls towering trees their home. In the face of deforestation and changing climate, our commitment to preserve these living giants and their diverse ecosystems has become ever more critical. I thank the Royal Geographical Society for catalysing leadership in research and debate on the biggest environmental issues of our time. This award will catalyse me to continue doing the same.”

Professor Felix Driver receives the 2023 Patron’s Medal for his contributions to historical geography and to the Society.

Nigel Clifford said: “Felix is one of the most influential human geographers of his generation. A Royal Medal is suitably fitting to recognise such profound achievements. His work has been a catalyst for change across museums, national bodies and cultural institutions, including the Society. His enormous contributions to Society projects, such as Hidden histories of exploration and Everest through the lens brought to the fore the significant involvement of those hidden from history and connected our Collections to the pressing issue of the ethics of inclusion and recognition. He is also a pioneer of new fields and approaches in the geo and environmental humanities, such as plant humanities, mobile museums, indigenous mapping, and environmental movements.”

Professor Felix Driver said: “It is an honour to receive this award and I am especially grateful to the Society for recognising the value of research in historical geography and for seeking creative and effective ways of reactivating its own remarkable Collections.”

This year, the Society’s medals and awards recognise 23 outstanding people and organisations for their notable contributions to geography. Among other recipients, photographer and writer team Harriet and Rob Fraser received the Cherry Kearton Medal and Award for their discipline-crossing work that sheds light on the seldom-seen and seldom-heard in the context of rural landscapes. Jane Rumble OBE is awarded the Back Medal for her commitment to shaping public policy in polar settings, and inspirational academic, Professor Anson Mackay, is awarded the Victoria Medal in recognition of their transformative impact on the discipline of geography.

HIS MAJESTY THE KING has approved the award of the ROYAL MEDALS as follows:


Royal Medal – Founder’s Medal


Andrew Mitchell

For his lifetime’s contribution to protect tropical rainforests and combat climate change


Royal Medal – Patron’s Medal Professor Felix Driver

For his contributions to historical geography and to the Society


THE SOCIETY’S COUNCIL has made the following awards:


Victoria Medal Professor Anson Mackay

For their transformative impact on the discipline of geography

Busk Medal Professor Jos Barlow

For his outstanding contribution to understanding and conserving the Amazonian tropical rainforests

Cherry Kearton Medal and Award


Harriet and Rob Fraser

For their discipline-crossing work, aiming to shed light on the seldom-seen and seldom-heard in the context of rural landscapes

Murchison Award Professor Noel Castree

For substantial and highly influential published work about the relationships between contemporary societies and the physical environment

Back Award


Jane Rumble OBE

For outstanding commitment to shaping public policy in polar settings

Cuthbert Peek Award Dr Lisa Wedding

For contributions to advancing contemporary methods in remote sensing of the environment, with novel applications for marine management

Gill Memorial Award

(two awards)

Dr Sarah Bell

Dr Jovan Scott Lewis

For exceptional early career research with a remarkable track record of achievement

Ordnance Survey Awards

(two awards)


Ellie Barker

Simon Holland

For excellence in geography education at secondary level

Taylor and Francis Award


Dr Matt Finn

For excellence in the practice and promotion of teaching in higher education

Ness Award


Alastair Humphreys

For his long-standing contributions to promoting a greater understanding of our world and wider public engagement with the outdoors

Alfred Steers Dissertation Prize


Roisin Gilloch Boyle

For the undergraduate geography dissertation judged to be the best in 2022

Area Prize Rosie Hampton

For the best article in the journal by a new researcher: ‘Towards an agenda for oral history and geography: (Re)locating emotion in family narratives of domestic abuse in 1970s East Kilbride’

Ron Cooke Award


Elysia Sanders

For her A Level project titled ‘How have glacial and physical post-glacial processes caused variation in the landscape of the Troutbeck Valley’

Geographical Award Endurance 22 Expedition

For significant impact in inspiring and raising the understanding of geographical expedition and discovery

Honorary Fellowship


Professor Simon Catling

In recognition of outstanding support for geography

Derry Corey

In recognition of outstanding support for the Society

Ted Grey

In recognition of outstanding support for geography

Alasdair Macleod

In recognition of outstanding support for the Society and geography