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SPRI Review 2009: Friends of the Scott Polar Research Institute

Friends of the Scott Polar Research Institute

Although the Friends managed to send a few sledgers North in 2009, sadly the triumph of 2008 has not been repeated. In common with most other fund-raising organisations, the economic climate has proved something of a challenge. New ideas are being researched, however, and we hope to report greater success next year.

We are especially grateful to all those who continue to support the Friends with regular fundraising activities. These range from desert marathon runs (Jennifer Murray), via art exhibitions (Putachad Leyland), to community card sales (Marilyn Back). The year has been characterised by the closure of the Institute's Lecture Theatre while the museum has been remodelled. We all eagerly anticipate the opening of the Polar Museum in June 2010 and a return to our usual venue in the Institute for Saturday Evening Lectures in the Michaelmas Term. We have been well looked after by the Department of Chemistry and are very grateful for the use of their lecture rooms for our regular Saturday lectures over the period of the museum refurbishment.

Notable events during the year were our Summer Lunch, which included a visit to the British Antarctic Survey on Madingley Road in Cambridge. We are very grateful to the Director, Professor Nick Owens, and his staff for looking after us so well. In October, the Friends enjoyed a tour of HMS Scott, the Royal Navy survey ship assigned to the Antarctic station in place of HMS Endurance for the 2009/10 season. We were made most welcome by the Captain and crew and look forward to expanding our connection in the future. On the same occasion in Plymouth we were welcomed by Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) who kindly gave us a tour of their research facilities and a most interesting presentation on their oceanographic research programme.

Our lectures over the year continued to be well-attended and to cover a wide range of topics. Dr. Paul Berkman talked on the lessons of the Antarctic Treaty for the potential exploitation of Arctic resources. Pen Hadow modestly described swimming an open lead in the Arctic sea ice as a 'busy day at the office'. Other topics ranged from the historic pictures taken on Shackleton's Nimrod Expedition (1907–09) to the history and fate of the RSS William Scoresby.

Finally, I must record the Friends' thanks to the Staff at the Institute who, despite coping with the building and museum modifications, have been unfailingly helpful, and to Ann Bean and Celene Pickard, the Friends Membership and Executive Secretaries, without whom the work of the Friends could not be carried on.

Robin Back (Chair, Friends of the Scott Polar Research Institute)

Angry bear, Inuit sculpture from Cape Dorset, Baffin Island, Canada

Angry bear, Inuit sculpture from Cape Dorset, Baffin Island, Canada