Frank Gardner Biography
Frank Gardner (Francis Rolleston Gardner) is a British journalist, author and Army Reserve officer born on 31st July 1961 in Hampstead, London, England. He works at BBC as the channel’s Security Correspondent. In 2005 he was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to journalism.
He was commissioned on 23 May 1984 as a second lieutenant officer in the Army Reserve. On 30 September 1984, he transferred from the general list to the 4th Volunteer Battalion, the Royal Green Jackets, as a second lieutenant and was given seniority from 23 May 1984. On 30th September 1985 he was promoted to lieutenant and later to captain on 1st October 1990, with seniority 1 February 1989.
On 11 November 1993, he was appointed a captain in the Regular Army Reserve. He returned to the Territorial Army on 24 April 1997, serving in the Educational and Training Services Branch of the Adjutant General’s Corps. He was promoted to major on 1 July 2006.
He has also worked in the business field as a marketing manager for Gulf Exports from 1984 to 1986 and in trading and sales for Saudi International Bank from 1986 to 1990. In 1990 he became a director of Robert Fleming Bank until 1995. He left banking and started working in journalism for BBC World after a nine-year career in banking as an investment banker.
Frank Gardner photo
Frank Gardner Age
Frank was born on 31st July 1961 in Hampstead, London, England ( 57 years old as of 2018).
Frank Gardner Education
He attended Saint Ronan’s School, and Marlborough College, he was pushed by his teachers into taking up biathlon, which made him to travel to Austria to train with the British Army biathlon team. In 1984, he graduated at the University of Exeter, with a Bachelor of Arts in Arabic and Islamic Studies.
Frank Gardner Family
Frank was born to Robert Neil Gardner and Evelyn Grace Rolleston who were both British Diplomats. His mother, Grace, died in 2004. She was a Cambridge scholar, diplomat and artist. Frank once said in an interview that his mother was the third woman to get into the Foreign Office and she had to fight a lot of sexism and prejudice.
His father, Robert, was a composer, musician and diplomat. He was a composer closely associated with the Armonioso String Quartet and had began composing music at the early age of 6. He spent the Second World War in the Army and then had a subsequent career in the Diplomatic Service, which was largely spent abroad in Germany, Czechoslovakia, Singapore and the Netherlands. Despite his career as a Diplomat he still had time for music and gained the performer’s licentiate of the Royal Academy of Music, playing the piano in his spare time. Also in 1946 he was awarded the gold cup for piano composition in the first Cheltenham Musical Festival.
Frank Gardner Wife
Frank Gardner is married to Amanda Pearson. The couple got married in 1997. During an interview with ‘The Guardian’ Garden said that his wife supported him and has been very amazing after he was shot and left paralyzed.
“My wife has just been an amazing support, she has been so understanding. She married an able-bodied person and she’s now got a disabled husband. That’s tough for her as well.
Frank Gardner Children/ Frank Gardner Daughters
Frank together with his wife Amanda Pearson has two children. When he was in hospital in 2012 he tweeted that his daughters had brought him ‘Band of Brothers’ to read in hospital.
My daughters have brought me Band of Brothers to read in hospital. Rather puts my own injuries into perspective.
— Frank Gardner (@FrankRGardner) August 19, 2012
Frank Gardner Career in Military
Frank began his career as a second lieutenant officer in the Army Reserve on 23rd May 1984 when he was commissioned. He was transferred from the general list to the 4th Volunteer Battalion, the Royal Green Jackets, as a second lieutenant (on probation) on 30th September 1984 and was given seniority from 23 May 1984.
On 30th September 1985 he was promoted to lieutenant with seniority from 23 May 1984. On 1st October 1990 he was promoted to captain with seniority 1 February 1989.
He was appointed a captain in the Regular Army Reserve on 11th November 1993. He returned to the Territorial Army on 24 April 1997, serving in the Educational and Training Services Branch of the Adjutant General’s Corps. He was promoted to major on 1 July 2006.
Frank Gardner Banking
Gardener has also worked in the banking sector as a marketing manager for Gulf Exports from 1984 to 1986 and in trading and sales for Saudi International Bank from 1986 to 1990. He joined Robert Fleming Bank in 1990 as a director a position he held until 1995. He left banking and joined journalism.
Frank Gardner BBC
Frank joined BBC World in 1995 as a producer and reporter. In 1997 he became the BBC’s first full-time Gulf correspondent setting up as a freelance stringer in Dubai.
He was appointed as BBC Middle East correspondent in charge of the bureau in Cairo in 1999. In 2002 he specialised solely in covering stories related to the War on Terror, this was after the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York.
On 6th June 2004 Frank was shot six times and seriously injured in an attack by al-Qaida gunmen while reporting from Al-Suwaidi, a district of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia notorious for extremism. His colleague Simon Cumbers, who was an Irish Cameraman, was shot dead. One of the bullets hit his spinal nerves and was left partially paralysed in the legs and since then has used a wheelchair.
In mid 2005 he returned to BBC after 14 surgical operations, seven months in hospital and months of rehabilitation. Despite his injury he still reports from the field including places like Afghanistan and Colombia but usually comments on top stories from a BBC studio.
Frank Gardner Books| Frank Gardner Novels
- Blood and sand
- Far Horizons
- Garden Edges and Retaining Walls
- Planning & Building Paths
- Building Barbecues
- Outdoor Living Projects
- Landing Force 48: Marines
- A Practical Guide to Paving
- Bricks, Pavers & Tiles
Frank Gardner Crisis
Crisis is Frank Gardner’s novel that was published in 2016. The fictional novel follows Luke Carlton an ex-special Boat Service commando who is now under contract to MI6 for some of its most dangerous missions.
He was sent into the steaming Colombian jungle to investigate the murder of a British intelligence officer but he finds himself caught up in the coils of a plot that has terrifying international dimensions. Hunted down, captured, tortured and on the run from one of South America’s most powerful and ruthless drugs cartels and its psychotic leader thirsting for revenge, Luke is in a life-or-death race against time to prevent a disaster on a truly terrifying scale: London is the target, the weapon is diabolical and the means of delivery is ingenious.
Drawing on his years of experience reporting on security matters, CRISIS is Frank Gardner’s debut novel. Combining insider knowledge, up-to-the-minute hardware, fly on the wall insights with heart-in-mouth excitement, CRISIS boasts an irresistible, visceral frisson of authenticity: smart, fast-paced and furiously entertaining, here is a thriller for the 21st century.
Frank Gardner Wheelchair/ Frank Gardner Disability
On 6 June 2004, he was shot six times and seriously injured in an attack by al-Qaeda sympathisers, while reporting from Al-Suwaidi, a district of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. One of the bullet hit his spinal nerves and he was left partially paralysed in the legs and since then has used a wheelchair.
In November 2014 when the last surviving member of the gang was sentenced to death Frank didn’t call for a pardon saying that the gang member was not remorseful.
“Forgiveness is not really an option. He is completely unrepentant. He has never said sorry. He is still in the mindset that he had when he attacked us. So forgiveness is not really an option. It’s not like this man’s parents have written to me or anyone saying, ‘Please forgive him’. No one has apologised.”
Gardener was offered the chance to meet with the assailant but he turned it down saying there was nothing he could get from the meeting.
. “I don’t want to see this guy. Why would I? What am I going to get from it? The man’s soul is dead.I gather he’s put on weight in jail – he has been eating quite well.”
He also said he didn’t feel any triumph although justice has been served.
“I don’t feel any kind of triumphalism at all. This is no one-nil moment. Justice has been served. The court has looked at the evidence. My understanding is that he has not offered any defense for what he did. It was inexcusable.”
Frank Gardner Saudi Arabia
On 9th November 2017 Frank wrote an article about Saudi Arabia on bbb.com which was titled ‘Saudi purge demonstrates ruthlessness of crown prince’.
— Frank Gardner (@FrankRGardner) November 9, 2017
Frank Gardner William The Conqueror
In September 2015 Frank appeared on BBC TV on in the 12th UK series of ‘Who Do You Think You Are’ where he learnt that through his maternal family tree he directly descended from William the Conqueror, his 29x great-grandfather. Frank said that his mother had told him while he was a child that they were were descended from the Normans.
Frank Gardner Twitter
Frank Gardner-What’s the story?
Frank Gardner Interview: Moving on
Commander Bond,” Frank Gardner announces into his mobile phone, which has just played the 007 theme. “Isn’t that a great ringtone?” he laughs, his hand over the mouthpiece. It’s also a singularly appropriate one for the BBC security correspondent, who could almost certainly have had another life as a special agent had he not become a journalist.
The crisp, upper-class tones, the lean, intelligent features and the immaculate air of an officer and a gentleman all add to that impression, despite the fact that Gardner is paralysed from the knees down and is now based in a wheelchair. “Thank you for being politically correct. So glad you said that,” he acknowledges, without a hint of irony, when I use this phrase in passing. “Wheelchair-bound, wheelchair-confined, it’s so 1950s, isn’t it?”
It would be impossible to imagine anyone less “confined” to a wheelchair than 47-year-old Gardner, whose New Zealand-born wife Amanda, with whom he has two daughters, Melissa, 11, and Sasha, ten, has pointed out that his chair is just a means of getting him around anyway. “So don’t hate the wheelchair!”
In fact, he says of his increased mobility since a life-threatening attack by al-Qaeda gunmen in 2004: “I’ve managed to claw back much of the enjoyment of life before paralysis.”
He’s been quad-bike riding in the desert – “I simply can’t describe the thrill of being able to move fast over the ground … at the giddy heights of 30mph!”. He’s taken part in an Outward Bound weekend on Exmoor (wheelchair abseiling), explored the jungle of Thailand and been backpacking with a mate in Cambodia. He has also carried on reporting from the world’s trouble spots, including Afghanistan and Colombia, even broadcasting live from the BBC’s Jerusalem bureau during the Lebanon war in 2006. He had to prove to himself as much as anyone that his wheelchair should not be a barrier to getting back in the field.
Have wheels, will travel, you might say.
Today, he’s tanned and looks fit and relaxed. He and his family have just returned from holidaying in the Maldives, where he took his daughters night snorkelling and scuba diving. His face lights up as he describes the tropical fish his girls swam alongside, “reef sharks, green turtles, snapper butterfly fish”, adding that he finds a kind of freedom underwater because he can stand unsupported. “It’s a wonderful feeling, not needing any help. It’s hard work, though, as I have to propel myself by doing underwater breaststroke, which is like swimming through marmalade, but it’s very liberating.”
Nonetheless, it must be incredibly frustrating for a man who has spent most of his life travelling the world – 95 countries at the last count; “Oh sure,” he says confidently, “I’ll make the century”– to no longer have the use of his legs. But then it’s also a miracle he is alive.
Today it is five years since fanatical gunmen – fugitive al-Qaeda militants – shot him six times at close range while he was on a reporting assignment in Saudi Arabia. He was left screaming and bleeding to death in a street in the capital, Riyadh. His cameraman, Simon Cumbers, 36, an Irish veteran of countless BBC assignments, was murdered by a single bullet.
“He was killed by heartless thugs who never knew his decency or his profound humanity,” says Gardner, the only child of career diplomats, who have Scottish ancestry. London-born, he was educated at Marlborough and Exeter University, where he gained a degree in Arabic and Islamic studies.
His parents are in their late eighties and, he says, have never quite understood his passion for the Middle East so they always feared something like the shooting would happen, but clearly he gets his dashing demeanour and sense of derring-do from them. There’s even a photograph in his terrific new book, Far Horizons, of his parents mountain walking in the Dolomites in their seventies.
Gardner’s survival against seemingly hopeless odds is astonishing, although when I first met him three years ago, he told me he believed he’d inherited his fighting spirit from his mother Grace, only the third woman to get into the diplomatic service. A Rolleston before her marriage to his father, Neil, she’s a descendant of the Black Knight of Loch Awe. “Whoever he was,” grins Gardner.
Four of the bullets pumped into him blasted the spinal nerves that allowed him to walk and only the skill of Dr Peter Bautz, a South African trauma surgeon and gunshot wound specialist, saved his life, which hung in the balance for 48 hours. “You had an acute case of lead poisoning,” Dr Bautz told him.
“Only later did I learn this is medical black humour for being shot multiple times,” remarks Gardner, who still endures unimaginable pain every day and who stoically lives with the knowledge that he will never walk again, although he can stand for two hours at a time, using a walking frame that he transports slung around his neck when he’s in his wheelchair. When I first see him fast approaching the south-west London restaurant where we meet, he looks as if he might have landed from a spaceship, with the sunshine bouncing off the silver metal frame on his shoulders.
His doctors want him to stand and walk for a while every day as he has severe osteoporosis, so he does, wearing metal callipers under his trousers, although the pain is excruciating. “Hidden beneath the skin there has been microscopic improvement in my nerves, so that I can now move and feel my upper legs, though I will never be able to walk on them without wearing callipers. But I am going to have another go at trying to walk on crutches,” he says.
He refuses all painkillers, after being prescribed medication that had a disastrous hormonal side-effect: he grew breasts. Given the ravaged state of the rest of his body, he hadn’t noticed until Melissa said one day: “Daddy, you’ve got boobies.”
Yet, despite everything that has happened to him there is not a trace of bitterness or self-pity when he speaks about living with disability. Only two pages of Far Horizons are spent on the tragic events of 2004. Most of the 25 chapters in this absorbing, amusing book are devoted to accounts of “unusual journeys and strange encounters from a travelling life” both before and after he was injured.
He has, in any case, already told his remarkable tale in an inspirational bestselling memoir, Blood & Sand. “I was damned if I was going to write Blood & Sand II. I didn’t want people thinking: ‘There he goes again, banging on about Riyadh,” he says. Instead, he’s written an unusual travel book, a book that he hopes is a celebration of independent travelling.
For he’s a travel junkie. Before he was gunned down, he was a sports-mad chap who ran marathons, trekked across deserts and rode on the roof of a train across Kathmandu. You name the country, he’s been there – Oman and Jordan and the islands of Sumatra and Socotra, Transylvania, even, with Club 18-30! He’s eaten nasty things in nasty places – “glistening purple entrails, anyone?” – has been arrested under suspicion of spying at Bahrain airport and once killed a rabid dog because none of the locals would.
In his youth he spent his gap year cross-country skiing across the Arctic Circle, before heading for Morocco and Istanbul. Then he bought a one-way ticket to Manila simply because it sounded like an ice-cream flavour and went trekking among thonged tribesmen in the remote highlands. There was also a nightmarish and hilarious stay in a Greek hospital where he was wrongly diagnosed with typhoid.
It has been a salutary experience revisiting his 18-year-old self, as well as recalling all the good years he spent travelling and working in the Middle East when he was a besuited banker who went water-skiing in his lunchbreak, when he lived in the Gulf.
All the way, he kept vividly written, witty diaries, the basis for many of the chapters in his book, which is illustrated with his own photographs and sketches, although the most touching image in the book is his mother’s sensitive portrait of him as a young man. His journals have given him some Proustian moments. “I wrote them almost immediately, so when I re-read them I could actually smell the smoke of a particular camp fire, say, and was immediately transported back in time.”
But the heart and soul of Far Horizons is the story of how he came to terms with his disabling injuries and has got on with getting back as much of his old life as he possibly can, while enjoying some hair-raisingly brave travelling.
SITTING in the sparkling sunshine beside the Thames, he speaks of a life that seemed to be on pause in the wake of the shooting. He’s been able to make the most of what he has, he says softly, thanks to all the encouragement from his wife and their two children, to hard hours down the gym, and to his own stubborn determination to move on.
“Even after five years, it is very, very strange to be in a wheelchair,” he confides. “I find myself thinking, ‘OK, we’ve done this thing now. Let’s just go back to how it was’, although I am not morbid about it.”
Sure, he continues, he’s strapped himself into a device called a bobski and rashly taken part in the BBC’s 2008 Ski Sunday Grand Slalom Contest in Courmayeur (“I came last, by a considerable margin”). And, yes, he’s been scuba-diving in the Red Sea, descending to 22 metres below the surface to explore the wreck of a Merchant Navy freighter, propelling himself with specially designed webbed gloves.
“But let’s get this in perspective,” he warns, draining his coffee. “I am not some gung-ho nutter, addicted to dangerous sports, nor am I bent on proving a point to the world; these just happen to be activities I enjoyed before my injuries and so I have decided to carry on doing them now. In any case, I’m done with danger. I was never a risk-taker; I went in search of adventures.”
However, he has no desire to be wrapped in cotton wool. He “can’t stand” being watched as he transfers himself from his wheelchair. “It turns it into a bit of a spectacle – and I prefer to do everything for myself,” he says edgily. His parents always stare in fascination when he gets into and out of the driving seat of his car. “I wish they wouldn’t watch me, but I know why they do – they’re my parents,” he sighs.
Slowly, though, he’s rediscovering the thrill of travelling for travelling’s sake, despite the fact that travelling with a wheelchair can be awkward, even comical – frequently he is loaded into an aircraft through the catering door by forklift truck “like hot lunch”.
Before short-haul European flights, he has to starve himself because there is no means of conveying him from his seat to the onboard toilet. “And I have to buy business-class tickets for long-haul journeys to avoid getting pressure sores on my bum,” he says.
Which brings him to the profound anger he feels towards the Saudi government. “When I go back to the Gulf I am incredibly well looked after. The people have been wonderful to me. But the Saudi government has been less than honourable, with their promises of compensation. They have not paid one thing. It’s long-term misbehaviour. They have promised and never delivered. I think it is utterly cheap for a country that is rolling in money.
“There’s this complete farce of saying, ‘You must have minders’. For what? The trouble was ours ran away! I don’t blame them, they were unarmed. We should have had a police escort. But if you are going to go to the trouble of giving journalists minders who are going to run at the first sign of trouble, you should at least compensate.”
He doesn’t believe they will ever pay compensation to Cumbers’ family or himself. “It’s all tied up with not wanting to accept responsibility, and also there’s a number of other cases.
“They can’t see that this is a unique case where they invited us to come to the country, guaranteed our safety, failed to provide it and failed to give any compensation. It is a low and cheap way to behave.”
As for those madmen who shot him, they are now either dead or behind bars. Six were killed in shootouts with the police, the seventh is in prison. Gardner can never forgive the men who put him in a wheelchair and who murdered Cumbers.
“It was a cowardly attack made by blinkered bigots. Unforgivable. But I don’t waste time thinking about those people. However, I still feel desperately sad for Simon’s widow and his family.”
As well as his remarkable physical recovery, Gardner has made an amazing mental recovery. He has not suffered post-traumatic stress disorder, nor does he have recurring dreams about the shooting.
In Far Horizons, Gardner writes that he still harbours ambitions to take his daughters to see orang-utans in the wild “before either they all disappear or the girls grow up and become more interested in another kind of hairy primate”.
However, since he finished his book his “incredibly intuitive Kiwi wife” has pointed out that they must not spoil their daughters with endless exotic travel. They had a ball at Hogmanay, for instance, when he drove them on a 1,500-mile round trip to Drumnadrochit, which was under a thick icing of hoar frost. “The girls had never been to Scotland and they fell in love with it,” he says.
Here’s hoping that the sun shines out of cloudless blue skies for this extraordinary man with an unquenchable spirit who says: “A truly crap thing happened and you just have to deal with it. I have taken a deep breath and moved on; it is the only thing to do.” sm
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