skip to primary navigation skip to content

Polar Bytes 62 - January 2012

Polar Bytes 62 - January 2012

Scott Centenary Edition

Wilson, Scott, Evans, Oates and Bowers at the South Pole

Wilson, Scott, Evans, Oates and Bowers at the South Pole (SPRI ref: P2005/5/1686)

From the Chairman, Nick Lambert

Dear Friends,

Well, it's time to attack the keyboard again, this time with the first edition of Polar Bytes for the 2012 Centenary Year. If we thought 2011 was busy this year looks positively frightening, kicking off with Pole Day at SPRI on 17 January in only a couple of weeks' time, the service of commemoration at St Paul's on 29 March and numerous events thereafter. The Friends are welcome at the majority of these gatherings and my personal plea to all our members is that we should participate to the greatest possible degree – after all it'll be another hundred years until the next centenary by when, I suspect, the bulk of us will have moved on!

I am particularly keen that we maximise attendance at FoSPRI events this year, not least because they require a great deal of organisation but also as it is difficult to ensure financial viability if the turnout is poor. It was brilliant to see so many people at the 2011 Summer Lunch and we shall strive for similar numbers this year. On the other hand the AGM Dinner at Emmanuel College in Cambridge last November, whilst much appreciated by those who dined, was a little disappointing in that only 40 or so turned up. Your Committee has lots of ideas for 2012 focusing initially on the Friends' Centenary Dinner to be held at Trinity House in London on 10 March. Our speaker is Mr David Baillie of Wildcat Films who will present on his experience of filming in the Arctic, Antarctica and South Georgia with the helicopter mounted Gyron stabilised camera. He will describe life onboard HMS ENDURANCE and the capture of footage used in the Life and Frozen Planet series. This is a not to be missed event and a key fundraiser for the Friends in a cracking central London location so I urge you to inundate Celene in your droves for the 130 places! A request form for tickets is enclosed.

Financially we continue to bump along somewhat. In short, we need to raise about £10-15k this year to recover a healthy balance, after which your Committee is determined to tackle the approximately £60k 'national debt' which is the FoSPRI's commitment to the Museum refurbishment. There's no need to be despondent about this position – indeed it's impressive that a small association like ours has set itself such a meaningful challenge – as there are plenty of opportunities to raise funds in 2012. Hence I am particularly grateful for the stalwart efforts of Will Taunton-Burnet with the SSS100 Scott Centenary Sledge Pull and Jennifer Murray's amazing determination to tackle marathons that would defy many of the fittest athletes. Although Jennifer was unfortunately unable to complete the Racing the Planet event in Nepal due to a technicality, sponsorship funds are flowing in and she is committed to the further event in support of SPRI – there's no stopping this remarkable lady! Not to be forgotten are other Friends who quietly contribute funds by selling memorabilia or finding local sponsors. All the Friends can contribute to the Association's fundraising efforts through sponsorship, by attending FoSPRI events or (and I'm very keen to encourage this) through creating your own local events.

I'm extremely grateful to the numerous people who keep our busy little association underway including the ever cheerful staff at SPRI, the indefatigable Heather Lane, the persistent Celene Pickard, my fellow Committee members and, above all, to you our Friends. 2012 promises to be an inspiring, busy and challenging year. Let's get cracking!

From the Institute

A few words from the Director, Professor Julian Dowdeswell:

I have been fortunate enough to revisit a number of the historic sites in the McMurdo Sound area of Antarctica over the past few days, at the end of my term of sabbatical leave as a Visiting Fellow at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand. Especially at the time of the Scott Centenary, this has been a moving experience – for example, standing quietly in Scott's hut at Cape Evans, and thinking of those explorers who had built and lived in it one hundred years ago.

While in Christchurch, I was also able to forge closer links with Gateway Antarctica at the University, and with Antarctica New Zealand, who are the operators of New Zealand's Antarctic Programme – a visit to their Scott Base showed many of the strengths of New Zealand's scientific research programme in the South. In addition, I gave public lectures about the scientific work of the Institute and its historic collections, as well as completing several pieces of personal research.

I am looking forward to being back in the UK, and to the Institute and the Friends playing a full part in the celebrations of the Scott Centenary that will take place in the first part of 2012. We look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at the Friends' fund-raising dinner on 10th March. I wish all of you a Happy New Year and thank you for your continuing support of the Scott Polar Research Institute.

Julian at Cape Evans

The Director at Cape Evans, beside the cross erected by Shackleton's Aurora party in memory of MacKintosh, Hayward and Spencer-Smith, who died in 1916. Mt. Erebus can be seen in the background.

View from the Sea Front

George W Tabeart, Cdr RN, CO HMS SCOTT

One hundred years almost to the day that Captain R F Scott's party were making their epic journey to the South Pole the team onboard HMS SCOTT are preparing for the rigours of our imminent sea training challenge. On the centenary of the very day that Scott, Wilson, Bowers, Oates and Evans arrived at the Pole the ship will return alongside Plymouth ahead of our formal presentation for 'Hydrographic Operational Sea Training' (HOST), a series of inspections, trials, training and assessment drills to prove that the ship and her Company are fit to serve safely at sea immediately thereafter.

As ever onboard we draw inspiration from the heroic legacy of our predecessors, in particular recalling their convincing examples of good humour, self-reliance and determination to get the job done in the face of adversity. This is all the more salient to everyone in 2012 as thecentenary rightly attracts widespread national and international attention.

The HOST for HMS SCOTT will last through until the end of February 2012, thereafter we undergo some substantial updates to the surveying systems onboard, again echoing the scientific applications of the Edwardian expedition. With the training complete and the technical equipment updated we then continue our ocean survey programme. During the period that the centenary service is being held in St Paul's cathedral the ship is once again deployed collecting valuable data. A small team from our off watch personnel will attend the service and will be thinking of SPRI on the day. No doubt we too will craft a pause in the day's business onboard on 29 March 2012 to reflect upon the enduring legacy of the efforts expended by all members of the Terra Nova team in 1912. May our 21st century activity continue in a similar vein to the spirit of Captain Scott's men one hundred years ago, certainly we consider it a huge privilege to honour their memory.

SSS100 Update

The official Schools and Youth event of the Scott Centenary

Sledge pulling has started. In the last three months we have seen our sledges start to be used by a range of school, cadet, further and higher education teams. They have ranged from a series of 200m sprints, all adding up to 'the last eleven miles' to a full eleven miles along the camel trail from Bodmin to Padstow. All teams have fundraised to varying degrees, and funds raised are being passed on to SPRI and the beneficiary charities, and for use in the team's adventure training activities. SPRI is already benefitting. A full range of institutions, from Primary schools to Universities are lined up to take part in 2012. A large team from St Andrews University will be completing an on snow sledge pull across the Cairngorms in February.

We are in the process of planning regional team sledge pull challenges in various locations around the country. We will be on the Camel Trail again on 4 March, in Cambridge on Sunday 25 March and hope to be in Plymouth in early April. We are also lining up events in London and Cardiff, and continue to plan for our Nationwide Sledge Pull in September 2012.

Early in the New Year we will be sending out posters and flyers for these events and for the teamwork challenge sledge pull that schools can undertake independently. We would greatly appreciate your help promoting the sledge pull by spreading the word and if you can, by recruiting teams for us when these posters etc reach you in mid-January. You could even consider putting a team together for the Cambridge event. It may interest you to know that teams can get hold of a sledge for as little as £25, and some teams have raised in excess of £1,000 from their sledge pull. As well as being a fun and unusual activity, with a whole host of educational and skills training possibilities, it clearly is also a very worthwhile exercise.

Images from the teams and events, as well as details of the other charities supported alongside SPRI can be seen on the SSS100 website in the News / Gallery section. We have been having fun. With thanks for your interest, and very best wishes for 2012.

Will Taunton-Burnet

One of the Devon Teams in action

One of the Devon Teams in action

Edited by Heather Lane & Celene Pickard