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Polar Bytes - No. 2, April 1996

Polar Bytes - No. 2, April 1996

A word from our chairman Philippa Foster Back

I wrote in our first newsletter of our membership drive. I am happy to say that 60 new members have joined this year so far.... please remember our motto `Friends - please find a Friend or two or three or more....'

As you will read below the Friends have been active and our fund-raising is getting into full swing. We now have the brochures and a copy will be sent to each of you. If any of you have any ideas, or can help with our fundraising, do please write to Pam or myself.

Fund-raising update

During February and March, the Institute organised two fundraising events for the Shackleton Memorial Library: the Hussey lecture about Shackleton's expedition and These Rough Notes, a dramatic reading about Scott's last expedition. Chemistry's lecture theatre was bursting at the seams for the early show and straining the seams for the later shows. Both were a tremendous success and brought in £5166.70 in ticket sales! The actual profits were several hundred pounds greater due to increased shop sales (an update in a future newsletter) and the £300 from Atlas Limited Editions who, you will remember, offered to donate a portion of their profits from the sale of Hurley prints.

Three significant donations have also come in: we have received a written promise of £50,000 from an anonymous (at this time) donor; £30,434.90 from the estate of Leslie Walls, who was a friend, scholar, and great believer in the Institute; and a grant of £15,000 from the Jephcott Charitable Trust.

Ron Skeates, a new Friend, has also been contributing his speaking fees to the new Library and has raised £35.00 to date. Another exciting gift has been from artist Peter Coker, who has donated an etching entitled "Seascales ". Mr Coker was elected to the Royal Academy and has work in many public collections including: Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge; Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh; British Museum, London; Royal Academy of Arts, London, and Tate Gallery, London to name a few! This etching will be up for auction or raffle at our next big event and the proceeds to benefit the new Library.

A passport to polar adventure: National Science Week

The University of Cambridge's Press Office asked SPRI if we would like to participate in the University's programme for National Science Week by putting on an event on 16 March. Not to be put off by the lack of time, we said yes! [A slight apology first. If you missed this one because you were not alerted, do not despair, on 28 September we are planning a repeat for Alumni Weekend.]

On Saturday, at 10:25, a crowd of about 50-60 people had gathered outside the museum and, at 10:30 promptly, the first of between 11001500 people stormed the doors. Upon entry, all persons were issued with a passport to visit our six polar stations where they could get it stamped as they completed their tour. Passports were designed by Ron Wilbraham, our map curator, and printed, free-of-charge by Kall Kwik. By 11:00, it was obvious that the 300 passports would never see us through. A pleading call was made to Kall Kwik for another 300, we photocopied another 200, and we told parents that they had to travel on their children's passports.

Once inside, travellers could be piped aboard the Icebreaker Scott Polar, where Captain Joe Wubbold, a real US Coast Guard Icebreaker Captain, took them on a cruise in polar waters. The scientific officer, Waldemar Lehn, explained the mirages they saw and all on board returned safely to port. Originally 4 cruises were scheduled but the boat was stormed at 3:30 (closing time was 4:00) and another cruise set off. Visitors could also attempt a crevasse rescue with staffer Steve Wells and PhD student Matthias Reiseman, both experienced climbers, and learn how to get out of a crevasse. Lacking snow, the main staircase was used. It was reported that the girls were much better learners! More research is needed. The cold rooms doubled as Vostok Station and there visitors could experience -40° C with Finlo Cottier, sea ice PhD student and Jeremy Wilkinson, a sea ice researcher. So many visitors took this opportunity that the rooms were closed temporarily due to a heat wave. Charles and Mary Swithinbank were in charge of Basecamp station and explained to visitors about polar clothing -- Charles brought in many furs and both had their hands full as children tried on coats, boots, and leggings. Dr Pier Vitebsky and his daughter Catherine, experienced reindeer herders, passed along their skills to the visitors, and PhD students Matt Huddleston and Ben Seligman staffed the Environmental Research Station, explaining how polar research fits into global climate; Drs Liz Cruwys and Pam Davis spoke to visitors about adaptations of flora and fauna to polar conditions. A life-sized elephant seal (created by Ron Wilbraham) guarded the entry way to the reading corner, where Librarian William Mills, Irene Bums, and Fiona Undrill entertained the younger explorers. Finally, Paul Fryer, PhD student studying northern native peoples, was the artistic supervisor for a colouring session the results of which are now on display in the museum.

The day was tremendous fun and a tremendous success, exposing us to the community as never before. A repeat performance is scheduled for 28 September, let us know if you have anything to add or to offer.

Friends' Luncheon

The Friends' luncheon has been set for Saturday, 29 June 1996. This year, the luncheon will be held at the Royal Cambridge Hotel (practically next door). This venue will enable 122 Friends to come to lunch and give both old and new members a chance to meet. After lunch, we will return to the Institute for an update, by Dr John Heap and Philippa Foster Back, on all of the exciting happenings at SPRI. The cost of lunch is £15.00 and includes wine with the meal. Anyone wishing to sign up should do so by completing the enclosed form and returning it to Pam Davis at the SPRI with a cheque to University of Cambridge.

Alumni Friends

We are looking for former SPRI graduates! If you know of any who may wish to join Friends, please let them know we are here or send along their address.