Sally Orange MBE
Former British Army Major, multi-record-breaking adventure athlete, passionate mental health campaigner and inspirational speaker Sally Orange MBE has crammed a lot into her 49 years on the planet and she’s nowhere near done.
When she’s not undertaking record-breaking endurance achievements (often dressed in thoughtfully chosen costumes to raise a smile and start conversations around mental health), Sally is the focus of inspirational speaking engagements, attended by audiences of all ages at a variety of events, including at Buckingham Palace and Horse Guards Parade, and has featured in the media numerous times. Everyone is captivated by the modest, engaging and approachable way she shares the mental health and resilience learnings she has gathered from a career in the British Army and decades of volunteering and undertaking gruelling physical challenges all over the world.
Sally is the only person to complete a marathon on every continent dressed as different pieces of fruit. She has completed 8 full Ironman triathlons and the ‘Escape from Alcatraz’ triathlon, which included swimming across the treacherous waters around the infamous prison. Sally did this dressed in a convict costume to symbolise the way mental illness can make people feel like a prisoner in their own mind.
She’s also completed 82 marathons (including the iconic World Marathon Challenge – 7 marathons on 7 continents in 7 consecutive days – the first female veteran and one of only 5 British women ever to do so). She founded and captained the first team of injured and ill women to complete the world’s toughest cycle race, the 3000+ mile Race Across America (RAAM). She has cycled the length of New Zealand and the length of Britain on 3 separate occasions. She has run the toughest footrace on earth, the Marathon des Sables in the Sahara Desert, and run the length of Iceland dressed as a pod of peas. She has also rowed and swum the English Channel. She holds 6 Guinness World Records and 4 Invictus Games medals. Her adventure skillset also includes jungle survival, skiing, mountaineering, kayaking and scuba diving.
Sally Orange is the first and only female National Ambassador for the Army Cadet Force and is passionate about supporting and inspiring young people. She served as a physiotherapist in the British Army for 22 years, including a tour of duty in Afghanistan treating severely injured casualties. She has volunteered for over 30 years, raising more than £800,000 for 50 charities. In 2020, during the Covid-19 pandemic, Sally returned to the frontline at the NHS Nightingale Hospital and, while there, ran a marathon in hospital scrubs and a facemask around the Excel centre (the site of the hospital).
Sally Orange dedicated each mile to an NHS worker and raised thousands of pounds for NHS Charities Together. She also completed a virtual London marathon in the moat of the Tower of London, and another on a treadmill in a pod of the London Eye to symbolise the highs and lows of mental health during the pandemic. Six days later, on World Mental Health Day, she ran the world’s deepest underground marathon in a mine (in complete darkness wearing a helmet, head torch, safety goggles and face mask).
Sally Orange has been honoured with the Prime Minister’s Points of Light Award and a place in Captain Sir Tom Moore’s book One Hundred Reasons to Hope. She was awarded an honorary doctorate from the highly prestigious University of Nottingham in 2022 for her services to physiotherapy and mental health. And, in 2023, she was made a Member of the British Empire (MBE), for services to charity and mental health, in the King’s first Birthday Honours.
Behind the records and public speaking is a humble, warm, open, funny and, at times, vulnerable woman, whose own experience of severe chronic clinical depression and anxiety makes Sally uniquely placed to share her fascinating stories and resilience learnings from extreme environments, which she has a knack of making universally relevant. Sally’s approach to life (and her challenges) isn’t about strict diets and intense regimes, it’s about developing strategies to help her get out of bed when she’s depressed – strategies which also get her through epic endurance events.
She’s not one for grabbing the limelight or clocking her ‘best times’, she prefers to bring light to others while having the time of her life. Her goal isn’t to raise her own public profile, it’s to start interesting, inspirational and open conversations to raise awareness of mental health.
Sally Orange has spoken at events across the world for business groups, charities, schools and corporate companies.
Each talk is tailored to its audience and contains a unique message which draws on experiences from her incredible life.
From serving on the frontline in Afghanistan to completing some of the toughest endurance races on the planet, Sally inspires all those that cross her path with her positive ‘can do’ attitude, infectious warm smile and an ability to engage children and adults of all ages, backgrounds and culture
“Sally is an enthusiastic, humorous, honest speaker. The tales of her wacky but tough adventures are filled with adventure, empathy and food for thought.”
— Al Humphreys - Adventurer, Author and Motivational Speaker
"While our employees have been working from home, Sally Orange joined us on a video call to talk about her ultra-marathon running and ways of overcoming adversity. We were fortunate to enjoy much more than a conversation; the interview became an open discussion about mental health and education. A topic that is vitally important, but is so often challenging to discuss. What Sally has achieved is an inspiration to us all but I am sure the best is still yet to come"
— Kyle Whitehill, CEO, Avanti Communications
"A fantastic speaker who’s motivation and energy enthralled and engaged all the students from beginning to end. They particularly enjoyed dressing up as different pieces of fruit! Highly recommend."
— Head Teacher - Hanford School
Sally ran a webinar for our employees during Mental Health Awareness Week. Sally was so open about her mental health, the challenges she has experienced and how she has overcome these. Sally speaks in such an engaging way and we had some amazing feedback from people who attended the session. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Sally to other organisations who are looking to normalise conversations around mental health.'
— Wellbeing lead, Fujitsu UK
Thank you for being Newcastle School for Boys’ prize day speaker and chief guest last Friday. You brought a great deal of colour, warmth as well as some genuinely inspiring and important messages to the occasion. I have received a great deal of very positive feedback from pupils, staff and parents in Friday’s audience. Thank you also for your generosity in speaking with so many of our guests after the main ceremony - very much appreciated by them and me.
— Newcastle School for Boys