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SPRI Review 2011: Friends of the Scott Polar Research Institute

Friends of the Scott Polar Research Institute

The year saw considerable activity by the Friends, reflecting both the usual programme of lectures and functions liberally sprinkled with extraordinary events marking the centenary of Scott’s Terra Nova expedition. It was also the first year of office for a substantially new committee membership keen to build on the work of their predecessors in broadening the appeal of the association.

Highlights of the lecture series included talks by Angie Butler (who focused on her Quest for Frank Wild), as well as key speakers from the British Antarctic Survey. I am particularly grateful to Grattan MacGiffin, the vice chairman of the Friends, and to Dr Peter Clarkson of SPRI for so ably hosting and introducing our many speakers. Perhaps the most notable event of the year was the Scott 100 Conference, hosted by the University of Plymouth and the Royal Navy’s Hydrographic and Meteorological School at HMS Drake in Plymouth in June. The weekend gathering of polar folk is thought to have been one of the largest in living memory with a lecture programme that drew excellent reviews. There was a traditional naval mess dinner in HMS Drake’s wardroom with mess beatings, port, speeches and all the trimmings, recalling the Terra Nova Expedition’s mid-summer dinner in the hut at Cape Evans in 1911.

HMS Scott, back in Plymouth after her second deployment to the Antarctic Peninsula, was open to visitors. Daflia Scott had been artist-in residence during this deployment to the Peninsula region, supported by the Friends and the Royal Navy.

Fundraising continued apace all year across a range of activities including the SSS100 Centenary Sledge-Pull, and Jennifer Murray’s extreme marathoning in the mountains of Nepal, both of which continue to raise significant amounts. The new committee’s influence was reflected in the Friends’ Summer Lunch held, for the first time, away from Cambridge onboard Headquarters Ship Wellington, which is the livery hall of the Honourable Company of Master Mariners on the Thames. Attended by some 100 Friends, and guests from the James Caird Society, the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust, and the South Georgia Association, the venue proved to be very popular despite a pretty breezy and damp lunch reception on the quarterdeck. Back in Cambridge for the Friends’ AGM in November, the departure from the norm this time was a black tie dinner in Emmanuel College. The Friends’ activities could not happen without the support of numerous people. I am indebted to my fellow committee members and to the staff at SPRI; Ann Bean oversaw our membership, whilst Celene Pickard organised Polar Bytes (together with Heather Lane), committee meetings and the year’s events.

Nick Lambert (Chair, Friends of the Scott Polar Research Institute)

Unveiling ceremony in the SPRI garden for a new memorial dedicated to those who died in Antarctica (Nick Owens, Rod Rhys Jones, Oliver Barratt, sculptor, and the Director)

Unveiling ceremony in the SPRI garden for a new memorial dedicated to those who died in Antarctica (Nick Owens, Rod Rhys Jones, Oliver Barratt, sculptor, and the Director)