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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
  • Retirement from committee due: December 2022John 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.

Susan Rose (Vice Chair)


  • Elected to Committee: November 2014
  • Elected as Vice Chair: November 2017
  • Retirement from committee due: December 2021

Combining the traditional with the contemporary Susan Rose is an English bone china designer who is passionate about our Industrial Heritage. Susan runs the business from a renovated mill on the river Nene, dividing her time between Stoke on Trent and her Northamptonshire studio.

Passionate about the countryside and rural life, her home provides constant inspiration for her designs with a love of history, and nature. Recently Susan has developed the idea of a mug full of History, which tells the history or an organization or individual. Her love of bird watching, photography, gardening and animal husbandry have become a way of life, which over the years have become inextricably mixed with her art and her belief that her designs should inspire, create and tell a story for future generations.

Susan completed a foundation course at Chelsea School of Art before graduating from The Central School of Art and Design, London in 1982 with a BA in Graphic design, before working freelance for many years for such organisations such as The Falkland Island Company, General Trading Company, Sloane Square Tiles, Golfar & Hughes, The National Trust & Jane Churchill.

Susan is married to a Charles, a local GP and they have 2 sons, Jack and Harry. She is a keen gardener, knitter, photographer, bird watcher and lover of all things Cornish!

Christine Eckers

  • Elected to Committee: November 2017Christine
  • Retirement from committee due: December 2021

Originally from South Wales and now lives just outside Cambridge with her husband. She has always loved travelling and her childhood interest in the 'polar regions' was rekindled with a trip to Manitoba to see polar bears in the wild in 2014 and subsequently became a volunteer at the Polar Museum in Cambridge and joined the Friends of SPRI Committee in 2017.

She is an analytical chemist by training and worked for many years in the pharmaceutical industry, so is very interested in the scientific aspects of the work at SPRI. She has contributed to a number of scientific committees, is very experienced in organising national and international conferences and hopes to use this experience to help the organisation.

Her unfilled ambition is to visit Antarctica!

Garry Evenden (Treasurer)Garry

  • Elected to Committee: November 2017
  • Elected as treasurer : November 2018
  • Retirement from committee due: December 2022

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.

Richard Ralph, CMG, CVO

  • Elected to Committee: January 2018
  • Retirement from committee: December 2021

richardRichard Ralph, read Politics at Edinburgh University, he is a retired member of HM Diplomatic Service. His career took him to South East Asia, Europe, Southern Africa, the United States, and South America. He was Ambassador successively to Latvia, Romania and Moldova, and Peru.

His interest in polar matters stems from three and a half years as Governor of the Falkland Islands and Commissioner for South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands in 1996-99.

Brad Borkan

  • Elected to Committee: January 2020
  • Retirement from committee: December 2023

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 .

Robert Culshaw

  • Elected to Committee: January 2021
  • Retirement from committee: 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.

Ex-Officio Members of the Committee

Julian Dowdeswell

Julian Dowdeswell
  • Appointed to Committee: October 2002.
  • Ex-Officio, as Director of Institute

Julian's full biography is available.

Charlotte Connelly

Charlotte Connolly
  • Appointed to Committee: December 2015
  • Ex-Officio, as Curator of the Institutes Polar Museum

Charlotte'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.

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
  • Retirement from committee due: December 2018
  • Re-elected: November 2018
  • Retirement from committee due: December 2022

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

Co-opted Members of the Committee

None at present.