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Polar Bytes - No. 14, January 2000

A word from our Chairman, Philippa Foster Back

My thanks to all those who were able to attend the AGM and for your contributions - the matter of designing a Friends tie and scarf is already in hand! I do hope many of you will be able to attend next year's AGM on 18 November, when we will be commemorating the life and work of Sir Vivian "Bunny" Fuchs, who sadly died in November. We send our condolences to Lady Eleanor and her family.

I should like to take this opportunity to mention a most generous legacy that has been bequeathed to the Friends of 5,000 from Mrs Dorothy Laurie. The Committee would be happy to consider suggestions for an appropriate way to recognise Mrs Laurie's contribution. We shall be discussing this further at the March committee meeting, so please forward your ideas to Anne Millar.

Finally the Friends party heading down South are off on 6 January, with appropriate clothing packed and stocks of film!

I would like to end by wishing you all the compliments of the season and a very Happy New Year (century)!

Polar Paraphernalia, by Anne Millar

Changes to the Committee

We were sorry to lose Tony Billinghurst and Peter Speak both of whom retired after their 4 year term. Elected to serve were David Wilson FZS, and Nigel Back. The biographies of both David and Nigel are below.

Nigel Back (2004)

I have always had an interest in just how magical yet unknown the vast cold continent of Antarctica is ever since as a child hearing of exploits of astonishing courage in the face of appalling hardships from my grandfather Frank Debenham, the founder director of the SPRI.

However, a fascination for things polar is not purely sentiment. The continent still offers the developed and developing world a huge amount from the environmental research being carried out and the pure resources still being discovered there over and under the ice cap. The knowledge and understanding of these ecosystems and the operation of micro-organisms operating in what appear to be totally hostile environments may lead to many varied applications in our own daily lives.

The Friends in their own way can, by dint of their interest, their voice and to a modest extent their fund raising capacity help to support and promote this work. I very much look forward to helping do just that.

David Wilson (2004)

I am delighted to have been elected. It continues a long association between my family and the Institute, which has continued since its foundation as a memorial to Scott and the polar party, including my great uncle. Many Friends will remember me reading his part in "These Rough Notes." Some will have met me when I am in the Institute doing historical research. Others will have heard me lecture before this years' AGM or on the Antarctic cruise ship the Marco Polo - I will be doing my second season on that ship this year. And yes, I have driven sledge dogs.

The AGM and Supper, 20 November 1999

This was well attended and almost 80 people enjoyed the Buffet Supper afterwards. Many thanks to Sally Stonehouse, Diane Mills, Anne Todd, David Powell and Tony Billinghurst for their help on that evening. We must also thank Pam and Adrian White who very kindly donated the raffle prizes which raised 96 for Friends funds.

Photo Display

We were delighted with the response to the display of photos and slides - the top 4 images were "Penguins and iceberg" - Shirley Sawtell, "USS Atka off McMurdo" and "Adelie penguins" both by Dr Charles Swithinbank, and "Penguins" by Captain Lawson Brigham. Our thanks to everyone who took the trouble to enter a vote.

Membership Matters, by Jennifer Dale

Would members please ensure that any renewed bankers orders or covenants which begin after 1 August 2000 are for the new amounts approved at this year's AGM and which are explained in the enclosed letter from the Chairman.

Establishment of the MacDonald, Wilfred White and Nordic Funds, by William Mills, Librarian

Recent months have seen the setting up of three important new funds providing financial assistance to the Institute; and to the Library, Archives and Museum in particular.

Captain and Mrs Edwin MacDonald were frequent visitors and Institute Friends over many years. Captain MacDonald was a world authority on the logistical aspects of polar operations. After his death, Mrs Jessie B MacDonald continued her connection with the Institute and gave generously each year to support the purchase of Antarctic books. On her death in July 1998, she named the Institute as a beneficiary in her will. under the terms of this, the Institute has set up the "Captain Edwin Anderson MacDonald, USN, and Jessie Bell MacDonald Fund", the proceeds of which are "to be used for the purchase of materials relating to the polar regions". We are proud to be able to remember Captain and Mrs MacDonald in this way and "The MacDonald Fund" will contribute greatly to the enhancement of the Institute's collections.

Those attending the opening of the Shackleton Memorial Library will remember the Wilfred White display in the Friends Room. Wilfred White was the Institute's oldest Friend and he bequeathed his magnificent polar library to the Institute. Whilst many books from this library have been added to the Institute's collections, some duplicate volumes have been sold, the proceeds going to the "White Fund' to be used for the purchase of rare and antiquarian publications of the type that Wilfred himself wa s so expert in collecting.

A third new fund, "The Nordic Fund" has been established by anonymous benefaction to support purchase and maintenance of publications relating to the European Arctic, Greenland and Iceland.

As the preceding paragraphs make clear, the Institute continues to benefit greatly from the generosity of its Friends. All donations, of whatever size, are appreciated though special funds can only be set up for relatively substantial amounts. Anyone interested in establishing a fund is invited to contact the Director.

Shackleton Memorial Library wins RIBA award

The Royal Institute of British Architecture has announced its awards for 1999. Against stiff opposition, the Shackleton Memorial Library won one of four awards for the Eastern Region.

The judges comment reads as follows: "This is a well-mannered and well-constructed building that adds significantly to the collection of spaces making up the Scott Polar Research Institute. The existing building consisted of a number of densely packed floors with lots of separate spaces. The new rotunda makes sense of all this. Various nicely handled touches have been added to the existing building in the form of ceiling lighting systems and areas of display. The most memorable visual idea in the interior is the glass lift, at the opposite end of the entrance lobby of the original shrine to polar exploration. It has the appearance of a shaft of ice that has plunged down through the building. The colour of the glass surround and the way daylight glows through it, deliberately evokes the painting of ice which has been hung opposite to it.