Attendees at the RGS's 50th anniversary celebration of the Henrietta Hutton research grant

Attendees at the RGS's 50th anniversary celebration of the Henrietta Hutton research grant

This year, the Royal Geographical Society celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Henrietta Hutton research grant which supports students undertaking field research overseas. Before 2012, the grant was only awarded to women and this week, some of the 133 recipients met to remember Henrietta Hutton and to share the experiences they were able to have as a result of the fund established in her name.

Two of these intrepid women, who are alumni of the School, were interviewed on BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour. Dr Rita Gardner (DPhil 1981) - now the Director of the Royal Geographical Society - spent 9 months climbing down into deep wells in India in the late 70s as part of her research into climate change, and Professor Katie Willis (BA Geography 1986, DPhil 1994) - now Professor of Human Geography at Royal Holloway, University of London - experienced a complete culture shock in the early 90s when she travelled to southern Mexico to research gender roles there.

Alumna Dr Catherine Delano-Smith (BA Geography 1959) organised the Oxford University women's expedition to the Madeiras in 1961, which Henrietta Hutton took part in as ornithologist. In her address she gave a first-hand account of the joys and hurdles they experienced in organising this - at the time revolutionary - project, and of "Henny's" "mature and socially composed" personality that proved to be essential for the success of the trip.