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Polar Bytes - No. 21, January 2002

Polar Bytes - No. 21, January 2002

A few words from our Chairman, Philippa Foster Back:

Happy New Year!

Thank you to all of you who were able to attend the AGM. It was a full day of events with the Choir of Papplewick School giving a moving rendition of Scott's Last Expedition in the afternoon. This was followed by an excellent talk by Dr David Wilson on the Discovery Expedition, and in the evening David Yelveton also gave a fine talk on Discovery. At the AGM Irene Burns was presented with her gift - two tickets to the Antarctic, given by friends and Friends. I am happy to report she and Philippa Smith are safely returned after a truly memorable trip.

The Scott Polar Research Institute Fund was formally launched on November 17th and a thank you to all those who have so generously donated already. I gather initial donations have reached 12,000.

There are a number of staff changes at the Institute to announce: Professor Julian Dowdeswell becomes Acting Director this Lent Term whilst Professor Keith Richards is on sabbatical leave. Mrs Liz Crilley has joined as the Director's Assistant. She was formerly the assistant to the Headmistress and School Secretary of the Perse School. Miss Ruth Fleming has joined in the newly created post of Museum Attendant and Shop Manager.

In February there will be a formal launch by the Antarctic Heritage Trust based in New Zealand, of a fund to raise monies for the conservation of the Historic Huts on Ross Island. Sadly there are signs of deterioration of the huts and the contents, which need rapid attention. To date NZ$400,000 has been raised from the NZ Government to commission a report on the work needed to conserve these historic huts.

Our very best wishes go to William for a speedy recovery and we look forward to seeing him back in the Institute in February.

A few words from the Director, Professor Keith Richards:

I'm sure that Friends will be delighted to learn that the last quarter of 2001 has been full of good news for the Institute, on several fronts.

Thanks to the generous support of the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust, and a private benefactor, Michael Watt, it proved possible for the Institute's Archives to acquire a number of extremely important items at a Christie's sale in November, including Macklin's diary from the Endurance expedition, his papers from the Quest expedition, and amongst other items, Robert Clark's scientific reports from the Quest expedition, and a collection of Amundsen's lantern slides.

This was an exciting event which confirmed the Archives as a natural repository for documents and papers relating to polar expeditions, where they can form an invaluable resource for scholars in the future.

To add to this, three of my colleagues have been rewarded for their highly significant contributions to research and scholarship relating to the polar regions by University promotions - Gareth Rees to a Senior Lectureship, William Mills to a higher Librarian grade, and Peter Wadhams to a Personal Professorship. This is ample testimony to the quality and calibre of all that they do to maintain the reputation of the Institute, and they are all to be heartily congratulated.

Next, I can report a new addition to the Institute: Professor Julian Dowdeswell (well, not completely new, because he was a member of the Institute in the 1980s!). Julian has been elected to a Chair in Physical Geography, and as I am taking a term of Leave to finish some writing, he will be Director for the next three months, and will also be Director from October 2002, when my term of office (of five years, would you believe?) comes to an end.

Finally, we have launched our Appeal, and I am extremely grateful to the many Friends who have already displayed their commitment to, and support for, the Institute by responding to this so generously. All of these developments show how secure is the Institute's future.

A few words from our Secretary, Ann Bean:

The opportunity for Friends to meet locally and informally was requested by many of you in the Questionnaire last year and the beginning of a New Year seems an ideal time to make a start with trying to set up small local groups.

Those of you who live in the region of Holt, Impington, Guildford or Lincoln have the chance to start the ball rolling as the following four Friends have offered to act as points of contact within these areas:

Stephen Scott-Fawcett
Holt, Norfolk
Tel: 01263 710753

Janet Noneley
Impington, Cambs
Tel: 0781 265 8837

Heather Hobden
Lincoln, Lincs
Tel: 01522 820921

Solveig Gardner Servian
Guildford, Surrey
Tel: 01483 570717

If you would like the chance to meet up with other Friends locally please do ring, Janet, Stephen, Heather or Solveig and if you have any suggestions for events or venues I am sure they would be greatly appreciated.

We wish you all every success and look forward to hearing how things progress - we will be happy to publish reports or promote events in Polar Bytes.

Another suggestion for local contact was that Friends should try to arrange joint events with their local RGS groups - a Friend in the southwest is contacting his local RGS group to see if there would be any interest in this idea.

Diary Dates:

Tuesday 19th March at 1pm
Plymouth City Museum & Art Gallery
Lecture on Captain Robert Falcon Scott by Dr David M Wilson.

The exhibition at the Cheltenham Art Gallery of pictures from Edward Wilson's Nature Notebooks continues until 3rd March.

The South Exhibition at the National Maritime Museum finishes at the end of January, so do try to get to it if you have not already.

The IMAX presentation at the BFI cinema at Waterloo will run through to the end of April, call 020 7902 1234 for details or email or website

On 18th March for members of the RGS, Ann Savours will be giving a talk on the Discovery Expedition, at the RGS in London.