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Committee of the Friends of SPRI

Committee of the Friends of SPRI

The Committee of the Friends of the Scott Polar Research Institute comprises the following members:

John Shears (Chair)

  • Elected to Committee: November 2016
  • Elected as Chair: November 2018
  • Re-elected as Chair: November 2022
  • Retirement from Committee due: December 2026John Shears

John is a polar geographer and environmentaI scientist, with over 25 years of experience of working in both Antarctica and the Arctic, first with the British Antarctic Survey and then with the Scott Polar Research Institute at the University of Cambridge.

John was also an environmental and operations adviser to the UK government in Antarctic Treaty discussions for more than 20 years, and was a UK Antarctic Treaty Inspector in 2005, 2012 and 2015.

In 2017, John started up his own company, Shears Polar Limited, to provide expert lecturing, expedition guiding, and consultancy services for projects in the polar regions. Currently, he is leading the international Weddell Sea Expedition voyage to Antarctica in early 2019.

Brad Borkan (Vice-Chair)

  • Elected to Committee: January 2020
  • Elected as Vice-Chair: November 2021
  • Retirement from Committee due: December 2025

richardBrad is co-author of When Your Life Depends on It: Extreme Decision Making Lessons from the Antarctic. The book is about the life-and-death decisions made by the early Antarctic explorers and what we can learn from them for modern day decision making. It has been endorsed by Sir Ranulph Fiennes, and was a finalist in the Voice Arts Awards - Best Audiobook: History Category.

Brad has presented at a Friends of SPRI event as well as at Antarctic conferences in Norway, Ireland and the UK and on an Antarctic cruise ship, and has appeared on cable TV in the USA, and on internet radio programs. He is currently defining a documentary series proposal based on his book, as well as co-writing a second Polar-themed book.

For his full time job, Brad works in strategic partner marketing for SAP. He has a degree in Decision Sciences from the University of Pennsylvania. He lives in London, and is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, and a member of the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust, James Caird Society, Captain Scott Society, South Georgia Association, as well as the Society of Authors and the Alliance of Independent Authors. Brad's website .

Mark King

  • Elected to Committee: November 2021Mark King
  • Retirement from Committee due: December 2025

A fascination with the red ship sailing south from Hobart, and six weeks camping in the Arctic with the then British Schools Exploring Society fostered an interest in polar issues, and although reading mathematics in Cambridge, Mark attended talks at SPRI and subscribed to the Polar Record for decades, not least as a fresh source of themes and data for examination questions. Retirement from the civil service gave time to join Friends' trips and use the library to prepare for them. (It doesn't stop him also wandering around Papua New Guinea's New Ireland Province.) A renewed interest in Geology may reflect the need to take more rests when walking.

Garry Evenden (Treasurer)Garry

  • Elected to Committee: November 2017
  • Elected as Treasurer : November 2018
  • Re-elected as Treasurer : November 2022
  • Retirement from Committee due: December 2026

Born in Carshalton Garry was employed by Crown Agents for 41 years, latterly as its Payroll Manager. Following retirement and keen to do some voluntary work the ideal place was in the museum at SPRI. Two museum volunteers are now on the Friends Committee.

Garrys interest in polar exploration was inspired by the Ladybird Book of Captain Scott, when in Junior School in the early sixties. Since then his interest has grown to a rather substantial library of books and ephemera on the polar regions.

A member of his local Baptist Church, serving in various capacities over the years, currently its bookkeeper. Other interests are sport and classical music, a long suffering supporter of West Bromwich Albion FC and a member of Surrey CCC.

Graham Sadler

  • Elected to Committee: November 2021
  • Retirement from Committee due: December 2025

Graham SadlerOriginally from East Finchley in London, Graham graduated from UCL with a degree in Geography and a passion for travel. He began his career as a researcher in Remote Sensing and GIS at the University of London. He then went on to spend nearly 30 years in the oil and gas industry, developing market intelligence and modelling tools for the upstream sector, working with colleagues and clients across the globe.

Graham has a long-standing interest in the exploration of the polar regions and fulfilled an ambition to visit Antarctica when he participated in a trip to the Ross Sea with other members of FoSPRI in early 2020, reaching Scott's Terra Nova hut on March 2nd.Once home from his adventures in the southern hemisphere, Graham decided to leave the corporate world and return to research, embarking on a part-time PhD based at SPRI in Cambridge. He is focused on the application of high-resolution satellite imagery to monitor oil spills in the Russian sub-Arctic. Graham also undertakes consulting projects, assisting start-ups to develop analytical tools for the energy and resource sector, with a particular interest in helping corporate clients meet ESG targets.
He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and the Geological Society, a very keen long distance road cyclist and life-long Arsenal supporter.

Emily Rigby

  • Elected to Committee: November 2021
  • Retirement from Committee due: December 2025

Emily RigbyHaving previously worked at the Scott Polar Research Institute as Fundraising, Communications & Administration Assistant, Emily got to find out what a fantastic place SPRI is. Working predominantly on the Centenary campaign, meant that she got to experience all aspects of the Institute and Polar Museum, and had lots of contact with the Friends of SPRI. This led to a real love and interest in all things polar (along with lots of random facts about penguins!). Now working as Senior Development Officer at Darwin College, Cambridge, Emily still has a real affection for the Institute and the people who work and volunteer there. She is honoured and delighted to join the committee, and can't wait to be a productive part of the Friends community moving into the future.

Robert Culshaw

  • Elected to Committee: January 2021
  • Retirement from Committee due: December 2024

Robert CulshawRobert read Classics at King's College Cambridge, and then joined the Diplomatic Service. He served in the Middle East, Italy, Greece, and the United States. His posts in London included Head of News and Director (Americas and Overseas Territories): in the latter role he visited the British Antarctic Territory in 2005.

In 2006 he became Deputy Director of the British Antarctic Survey, where he led the project to build the new research station at Halley.

Since retiring in 2012 he has focussed on charitable work, including construction of the new Cambridge Ice Arena.

He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and of the Royal Society of Arts.

He lives in Fulbourn with his wife, Elaine.

Alan Wordie

  • Elected to Committee: November 2022Helen Wernham
  • Retirement from Committee due: December 2026

Alan (life member of FoSPRI) is a Chartered Surveyor with a personal interest in polar matters both Arctic and Antarctic, having followed the impact and journeys of his Grandfather Sir James Wordie, Shackleton's Chief Scientific Officer on Endurance and leader of subsequent Cambridge University expeditions into the Arctic.

His interest and research spans a period from The Heroic Age to the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition 1955 – 1958 and subsequent forming of British Antarctic Survey (BAS).

After joining the FoSPRI "Descendants of the Endurance crew" trip on Sergei Vavilov to Antarctica in early summer November 2014, Alan enjoys giving informed lectures on the Endurance expedition ITAE 1914 – 1917 and especially in alerting young audiences to the importance of ice and the impacts of global warming and ozone layer depletion.

He is looking forward to February 2024 and joining the FoSPRI trip on Seaventure comparing early and late summer activity of ice, air and sea, as well as exploring the peninsula within the Antarctic Circle.

Helen Wernham

  • Elected to Committee: November 2022Helen Wernham
  • Retirement from Committee due: December 2026

Helen became a polar enthusiast after a trip with her husband to Svarlbard "to see the polar bears" in 2011. Inspired to see "the other side", a visit to the Antarctic peninsula followed the next year when she became enthused by the onboard lectures on Shackleton and Scott and started reading. She persuaded her husband to take a memorable voyage to the Ross Sea for her 60th birthday when they were able to visit all the huts in fine weather, unforgettable. She and her husband joined the Friends and look out for polar events, including an annual visit to Oslo for the Amundsen lectures at the Fram Museum.

Helen is honoured to be asked to join the committee and hopes to be able to help with social media, particularly the Facebook page.

Helen is retired and has many interests including hiking, church, singing in a choir and being a member of a local theatre, as well as attempting to learn Korean.

Steve Garrett

  • Elected to Committee: January 2024Steve Garrett
  • Retirement from Committee due: December 2027

Steve is a musician, earth scientist and industry technology leader.

From 1981-87 he was part of the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) for airborne seasons, visiting diverse bases and staying in remote field sites. His PhD on the crustal structure of the Antarctic Peninsula was accompanied by numerous pioneering papers on the geology and geophysics of the continent still cited to this day.

His 30-year career in the energy industry included assignments across the UK and North America. He led a corporate UK global technology centre and the development of technology strategy for the UK industry.

Steve has released several recordings of new guitar music to critical acclaim including Discover and Endure launched in 2019 at RRS Discovery. His innovative project The Song of the Ice links music, science, sound, animation and images to tell the story of the life of the Antarctic ice sheet - with earth history, icequake and climate signal input from BAS scientists.

He is a Fellow of the Geological Society (FGS) and Member of the Independent Society of Musicians (MISM).

Ex-Officio Members of the Committee

Neil Arnold

  • Appointed to Committee: January 2023
  • Ex-Officio, as Director of InstituteImage of person

Neil's full biography is available.

Peter Lund

Peter Lund
  • Appointed to Committee: December 2015
  • Ex-Officio, as Librarian at the Institute

Peter's full biography is available.

Naomi Boneham

Naomi Boneham

  • Appointed to Committee: December 2010
  • Ex-Officio, as Archivist at the Institute
  • Naomi is the Minutes Secretary

Naomi's full biography is available.

David Waterhouse

Naomi Boneham

  • Appointed to Committee: May 2023
  • Ex-Officio, as Curator, Polar Museum

David is a curator, palaeontologist, evolutionary biologist and illustrator. He previously spent sixteen years at Norfolk Museums Service as Senior Curator of Natural History & Geology (where he curated some 1.5 million specimens ranging from gnats to mammoths!). In 2014 he co-created Norfolk's 'Deep History Coast' project – highlighting Norfolk's unique archaeological and palaeontological discoveries of international significance. David had curated award-winning temporary exhibitions across Norfolk including 'The Wonder of Birds' at Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery (2014) and 'Humans in Ancient Britain' at Time & Tide Museum, Great Yarmouth (2015). David also co-curated Norwich Castle Museum's permanent flagship 'Natural History Gallery' (2009). His excavation experience includes the oldest archaeological site in northern Europe at Happisburgh in Norfolk, a complete ichthyosaur in Whitby, North Yorkshire, and a Tyrannosaurus rex in Montana, USA.

David's new book (co-authored with the archaeologist Dr John A. Davies) entitled 'Exploring Norfolk's Deep History Coast' is due out this July.

You can find out more about David and the Deep History Coast from his YouTube videos here:

Celene Pickard (Executive Secretary of the Friends & Membership Secretary)

Celene Pickard
  • Appointed as PA: March 2007
  • Appointed at Membership Secretaty: 2013
  • Previously served on the Committee 2006-2009

Celene's early education in geography fuelled her passion for travel and all things 'polar'. She became a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and travelled extensively in-between her career in the electronics industry. After having a family, she changed careers into the travel industry and has worked for many years as part of the 'operations team' at London Luton Airport.

As researcher to Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Celene spent 3 years of intensive polar and historical research, culminating in the publication of his book, "Captain Scott". This book proved to be a huge success; 'I feel deeply honoured to have been associated with such a highly acclaimed book, which has finally set the record straight in terms of Scott's reputation and good name', she says. In order to carry out the research, Celene looked to SPRI for resources, expertise, knowledge, and unlimited access to the archives - 'all of which were unfailingly offered'. In appreciation to all at SPRI, Celene hopes that as a Friends' Committee member she can now 'repay' the support and friendship that was so readily extended to her, as well as maintaining and developing her interests in the polar world.

Ieuan Hopkins (BAS Rep) Ieuan Hopkins

  • Elected to Committee: November 2014
  • Re-elected to Committee: November 2018 and November 2022
  • Retirement from Committee due: December 2026

Ieuan has always been interested in anthropology and visual communication, and has studied both as an under- and post-graduate at the University of Durham and University College, London. He gained his master's in Archives and Records Management from UCL in 2005.

He has worked in a variety archives, including the Churchill Archives Centre and the V&A Museum of Childhood (where he experienced the ups and downs of curating a large travelling exhibition). He also spent 2 years at the Parliamentary Archives, House of Lords, as an Assistant Records Manager.

First working in the BAS Archives Service for a year in 2006/07, he returned in June 2013 as the Archives Manager.

He's very much looking forward to the opportunity of working with the Committee, which will help to maintain the important links between SPRI and the British Antarctic Survey (BAS).


Hopkins, Ieuan (2008). Places From Which to Speak. Journal of the Society of Archivists. V.29 no.1 pp.83-109

British Antarctic Survey Archives Service