The Bear Grylls Biography - Meet The Real Survivor
His real name isn't Bear Grylls, you know? Christened Edward Michael Grylls, Bear Grylls knew from an early age that he was not cut out for an ordinary life doing a regular nine to five. He was a gifted sportsman at school, but was far more drawn to outdoor pursuits such as climbing, sailing and mountaineering. In a sign of what was to come, Bear had branched out into in skydiving and martial arts by his teenage years, soon earning a second black belt in Shotokan Karate, and later travelling to Japan to train as a Karate Grand master.
An early role in the military as a Territorial Army Reservist for the SAS would give way to even greater things when, at the age of just 23, he became one of the youngest climbers ever to conquer Mount Everest. This is even more remarkable when you consider that, just eighteen months previously, he had narrowly avoided being paralysed in a severe parachuting accident while on a trip to Zambia in Africa. The profile his adventurous exploits created for him soon brought Bear to the attention of the media world, and within a few years he was on the path to becoming the public figure he is today.
Bear’s stellar TV career is well-documented. However, his heroic persona and the mystique of his background with the Special Forces can sometimes make the adventurer seem more like a fictional character than a real-life human being. So let’s look a little closer at his background to see if we can get a clearer idea of what’s behind possibly the world’s brightest survival show star.
As an infant, Bear moved with his parents and elder sister to the Isle of Wight from Donaghadee in Northern Ireland (where he was born on June 7th , 1974). His sister, Lara, coined the nickname ‘Bear’ when visiting her infant brother and their mother, Sarah (the daughter of Patricia Ford, aka Lady Fisher, and the cricketer Neville Montagu Ford), shortly after his birth. Their father was the late Conservative MP, former Royal Marine and lifelong Royal Yacht Squadron member Sir Michael Grylls.
Teenage Years and Education
Bear attended the prestigious Ludgrove School before moving on to Eton College. While at Eton he was instrumental in establishing its first mountaineering club. However Bear was a far from studious child growing up, and as a teenager he preferred raucous beach parties with his friends to staying at home revising for exams. He owned a 50cc moped which he would use to travel around the island, and in his late teens funded trips around Europe and beyond by working for his mother selling water filters door to door. It was during this period that he travelled to India with a vague intention of joining the Indian Army, but instead embarked on a trekking expedition around the Himalayas.
Further Education and Military Career
Returning home, Bear had his sights set on a career with the MI5. Learning that a university degree was a mandatory requirement for the service, he enrolled at the University of Western England to study Spanish and German. It was while studying at the university that Bear and a friend hit upon the idea of applying to join the 21 SAS Regiment (Artists Reserve). Bear successfully passed the rigorous selection process, and served with the regiment as a reservist until 1997.
That, in a nutshell, is how it all began. So where is Bear today? Well, as we all know, the chances are he’s off in some far-flung wilderness filming his next hit TV series. But that isn't the whole story, so let’s have a brief look at what really makes Bear tick.
Bear married Shara Cannings Knight in the year 2000. Together the couple have three sons, Jesse, Marmaduke, and Huckleberry. The family have a houseboat which is moored by London’s Battersea Bridge on the River Thames, and also own the remote Saint Tudwals Island West off Abersoch on the Llŷn Peninsula, North Wales. Both Bear and Shara are committed Christians, and Bear describes his faith as the ‘backbone’ of his life.
Over the past decade or so, Bear has established a TV career which places him at the very top of the survival and adventure world. He’s starred in programmes for both UK and American channels, and has recently entered the Chinese market with Survivor Games, produced in collaboration with Dragon TV. His long-standing working relationship with the Discovery Channel network led to his programmes being shown across the globe, and he now works with the NBC network in America, while continuing to produce television with Channel 4 in the UK.
Bear is the author of numerous books in a range of genres including biography, self-help, fitness and children’s adventure fiction. He is perhaps most prolific in the latter of these categories, penning eight instalments in his popular Mission Survive series. Bear’s most recent publishing project is the healthy-eating recipe book Fuel For Life.
Bear’s charity work pre-dates his fame. In 2000, he staged a sponsored naked rowing challenge along the Thames in a bathtub to raise money for a friend who had lost a leg in a climbing accident, and in the same year he led a circumnavigation of the UK on jet-skis in aid of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI).
In more recent years, Bear has been a vocal and active supporter of many charities, including The Prince's Trust, Global Angels (a UK-based charity with a worldwide remit to help children who are underprivileged or in danger), and SSAFA Forces Help (a support group for former British soldiers and their families).
Bear is active on both Twitter and Facebook. He uses his high-profile on these social networks to promote his supported charities, argue for causes close to his heart, and to publicise his various media activities and public appearances.
Aged eight Bear joined the Cub Scouts, an organisation he has remained heavily involved with ever since. In 2009 he became the recipient of the enormous honour of being named Chief Scout. As of April 2016, Bear continues to hold the position, and he remains exceptionally proactive within the scouting movement, stating that it ‘humbles’ him every day.
Aside from the survival adventures which have been captured on camera for the entertainment of his many fans across the globe, Bear has participated in a whole spectrum of expeditions and challenges, both before and after becoming famous. Here are just a few:
Crossing the North Atlantic
In 2003, Bear and a team including childhood-friend, SAS comrade, and Mount Everest climbing partner Mick Crosthwaite embarked on an unassisted crossing of the North Atlantic Ocean. Travelling in an eleven-metre open rigid inflatable longboat, the team encountered force 8 gales while negotiating a course through icebergs on their journey from Halifax, Nova Scotia to John O'Groats, Scotland.
Dinner Party at Altitude (2005)
Bear’s team, which included balloonist and mountaineer David Hempleman-Adams and Lieutenant Commander Alan Veal, the leader of the Royal Navy Freefall Parachute Display Team, enjoyed a formal dinner party under a hot-air balloon at 7,600 metres (25,000 ft), setting a new world record.
Journey Antarctica 2008
Bear and a team of four travelled to Antarctica to climb one of the World’s most remote unconquered peaks. He suffered a broken shoulder while using a jet-ski and had to be evacuated. The trip was organised in aid of Global Angels, and also utilized alternative biofuels in order to raise public awareness of their potential.
Longest Indoor Freefall
In 2008, Bear set a new world record for the longest ever continuous indoor freefall alongside double amputee Al Hodgson and Scotsman Freddy MacDonald, again in support of Global Angels.
Northwest Passage Expedition
Bear set out to raise money for Global Angels yet again in 2010 when he led a team of five in an attempt to pilot an ice-breaking rigid inflatable boat through the Northwest Passage. This perilous waterway is 2,500 miles (4,000 km) long and, at the time, was partially frozen. The team also hoped to raise public awareness of the issue of global warming.
Other Business Interests
Outside of his TV and other media work, Bear has tried his hand as a motivational speaker, both for profit and in a charitable capacity. He is also closely involved in the development of his range of signature adventure gear with the outdoor company Craghoppers, and has recently begun a project which organises outdoor adventure holidays for adults and children. Bear is also in collaboration with Gerber, an American knife company, in which he has a survival series comprising of survival essentials such as knives, tools, clothing, gear, and more.
So what else is there to know about Bear Grylls? Well, he’s 6 foot tall, weighs 170 pounds and is either left-handed or ambidextrous depending on who you ask, has a net worth estimated at around £7million or $10million, depending on which currency you’re more familiar with, and he’s a Gemini, not that anyone would expect him to be particularly interested in that sort of thing (although you never know).
What he certainly does still retain an all-consuming fascination for is the kind of rip-roaring adventure which would leave most people quaking in their combat boots for a week. Which is great news for the rest of us, because it means he’s bound to serve up plenty more thrilling survival action for us all to enjoy from the comfort and safety of our living rooms. And what could be better than that?