On Friday 21 April, the School had the pleasure of welcoming Spencer Matthews OE to speak at Shackleton Society about his documentary film Finding Michael. The film focuses on his quest to find his late brother’s body on Mount Everest, who died after summiting the mountain in 1999, aged 22. Matthews was assisted by none other than Bear Grylls OE and mountaineering world record holder Nirmal (Nims) Purja.
Matthews found fame on the reality series Made in Chelsea which he says exacerbated his already present alcohol problems. Before the programme, having left school, he flitted between jobs that rewarded the “party boy” lifestyle. This, however, was far from sustainable. Matthews went on to tell his charmed audience that his wake-up call was the imminent arrival of his first child. His journey to sobriety inspired him to start CleanCo a non-alcoholic spirit brand that is now stocked in supermarkets nationwide.
Remembering a talk given by Bear Grylls about climbing Everest whilst he was at school, Matthews contacted him in the hope he would be able to assist him in finding his brother’s body after appearing on Celebrity Hunted. After explaining the build-up to the near impossible task of finding a body on Everest, watching the documentary reveals the full extent of the tremendously challenging venture in front of him. The team used drones to scour the vast search area and continued traversing on foot to identify the clothing of the several bodies found, all with limited oxygen. Without revealing the outcome of his gruelling expedition, incredibly he helped reunite a local Nepali girl with her father’s body, whom she lost at the same age as Matthews lost his brother.
After leaving Everest with closure, Matthews witnessed Finding Michael’s phenomenal success, rising to #1 on Disney+ in the UK. Today, Matthews uses his platform to impress on his audience the importance of responsible alcohol use and open up conversations around mental health in conjunction with alcoholism. The evening proved to be thoroughly enjoyable for all, with a gripping story at its heart and valuable life lessons aplenty.