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Polar Bytes 68 - July 2013

Polar Bytes 68 - July 2013

From the Chairman, Nick Lambert

Dear Friends,

Frighteningly, it's yet again time to draft the editorial for Polar Bytes, so much so that I'm beginning to worry the years may be slipping by more quickly than I'd intended. On the other hand perhaps it's a sign that life is busy and fulfilling, and indicative of a similarly prosperous recent period for the Friends of the Scott Polar Research Institute. I write this editorial with the oak-laden scent of HMS VICTORY's lower gundeck in my nostrils and the evocative scene of the Friends dining amongst the memorabilia of Nelson's famous flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar in my memory. That fine event was the culmination of a very special summer FoSPRI gathering in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, which started with a commemoration of Scott's life in front of a little-known statue (one of Kathleen Scott's sculptures) in a quiet corner of the dockyard, followed by an excellent lunch and tours of the brand new Mary Rose Museum and other attractions.

Inspiring activities are becoming de rigeur for the FoSPRI and the visit to the British Antarctic Survey on 20 April was no exception. Some 100 Friends and their guests turned out on a sparkling day along with 15 volunteers from the BAS staff to enjoy an outstanding tour of the facilities and capabilities of the BAS headquarters on their Cambridge site. We saw everything from 30,000 year old ice cores to maps of Antarctica and an exciting presentation on the recent find of Shackleton's Terra Nova some 130 metres under the waters of Greenland waters - a cracking day out in every respect.

Inspiring activities don't happen without the efforts of inspiring people – the list of thank yous is near endless – and in the case of these two events I am deeply indebted to the ever selfless professionalism of Celene Pickard, our Executive Secretary, and Ellen Bazeley-White, our committee member and one of the BAS staff. It's equally clear that the Friends appreciate their efforts as we were inundated with plaudits for both occasions and so thank you to everyone for participating in and supporting our Association's programme.

There is, of course, plenty to do in the future; the AGM is planned for November and details of the autumn term's lecture series are elsewhere in this edition of PB. I sincerely hope that you'll be able to participate and your committee is of course always ready to receive feedback and ideas from our members. In the meantime we wish you all a peaceful and relaxing summer period which hopefully will include some well-earned holidays.

Friends enjoying the visit to the BAS Aquarium (Photo: © J. Pickard)

Friends enjoying the visit to the BAS Aquarium (Photo: © J. Pickard)

Amber Clutton-Brock lays a wreath at the memorial to her great-grandfather, Captain Robert Falcon Scott

Amber Clutton-Brock lays a wreath at the memorial to her great-grandfather, Captain Robert Falcon Scott (Photo © J. Pickard)

Nick Lambert and Father Andrew McFadden at the service of commemoration in Portsmouth Historic

Nick Lambert and Father Andrew McFadden at the service of commemoration in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard (Photo © R. Williams)

From the Institute

A few words from the Director, Professor Julian Dowdeswell:

It was a great pleasure to be able to attend the recent Friends' dinner aboard HMS Victory in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. The setting, the weather and the company were excellent and the tour of the ship was memorable. It was also good to see that so many guests of Friends were present. Thanks go to Celene Pickard for organising such a splendid event, and to Nick Lambert and the Royal Navy for making it possible. At the Institute, the season of examination marking by our senior academic staff is now complete. The marking includes both scripts from Geography undergraduates and from our own cohort of M.Phil. students in Polar Studies. Members of staff and research students are now departing for a variety of field projects in the Arctic, which includes work in Iceland, Svalbard, Greenland and the Russian North.

On a sad note, Friends will be sorry to learn of the death of Harry King, at the age of 91. Harry was Librarian of the Institute from 1955 until his retirement in 1983 and was an important figure in the development of our library into the world-leading resource that it is today.

Friends gather for dinner on board HMS Victory, Historic Dockyard, Portsmouth, 13 July 2013(Photo: © J. Pickard)

Friends gather for dinner on board HMS Victory, Historic Dockyard, Portsmouth, 13 July 2013 (Photo: © J. Pickard)

New student representative

The Friends Committee are pleased to welcome Katie Walter as the new student representative. She is studying Mechanical Engineering at the University of Hull. In 2009, she became the youngest person to walk the final 112 miles to the South Pole, raising not only the £30,000 cost of the expedition, but also a further £6,000 for her chosen charities. In recognition of her fund raising efforts for the restoration of Scott's hut, she was one of the school representatives at the national service of commemoration in St Paul's Cathedral in March 2012. A new student membership category has also been introduced at a cost of £5 per year.

Invitation to Friends in Kent and beyond

See the Events page for the most up to date information about the opportunity to view the model of Scott's Discovery, commissioned from expert model-maker Will Mowll.

News from the Heritage collections
From the Archives Manager, Naomi Boneham (

The hot weather hasn't abated researchers' willingness to forego the sun and embrace the polar diaries. During June we welcomed several overseas visitors who were in Cambridge to take part in the SCAR history conference, hosted by the British Antarctic Survey. The group also paid a visit to SPRI to see the Museum, Library and Archives and, as part of the proceedings, Klaus Dodds gave a public lecture at SPRI entitled Royalty and Loyalty: Queen Elizabeth Land and British Antarctic Territory.

The growing interest in all things Shackleton has been testing the Archivist's command of Spanish, as queries regarding the rescue of the men on Elephant Island and their subsequent stay in Chile have been arriving.

New gifts include diaries from the voyage of Discovery II in 1950. This voyage included a winter circumpolar cruise. We have also received additions to the Gough Island collections courtesy of Sir Martin Holdgate.

If the temperatures stay high I will definitely be taking the opportunity to do some collections care work in the archive stores, where the conditions are very pleasant in the air conditioning.

Staff changes

Martin French has recently been appointed to the post of Library Assistant. He joins us from the Cambridge University Library. He is currently working towards a Master's degree in librarianship from Aberystwyth University.

We are very pleased to welcome Rosie Amos and Naomi Chapman, who will be working together on Education and Outreach. They will occupy the former Friends' Office on the Ground Floor next to the photocopier. Rosie and Naomi will be familiar to many of you, as they have been with us for some time sharing the Temporary Education Officer role.

Bridget Cusack joins us from Kettle's Yard as Acting Museum Development Coordinator, taking on many of Kay Smith's responsibilities. Bridget has her new desk in the Remote Sensing Lab.

Verity Sanderson joins us from Anglia Ruskin University. She will be working at SPRI for two days each week as the UCM Press and Marketing Assistant, in a role which we share with the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

Rebekah Parkinson is the new ICON Intern for the University of Cambridge Museums and will be working with Sophie Rowe, whose role as Conservator has been extended to provide cover while Christina Rozeik is on maternity leave. We extend our congratulations to Christina and Tom on the arrival of Harriet Frances Rozeik Sutch, born on 23 June and weighing in at 6lb 10oz, despite being a month early.

A note from the Membership Secretary, Ann Bean

Membership currently stands at 636.

Subscription Reminders and Acknowledgements

As reported at the AGM, in order to reduce our postal costs we will, wherever possible, be sending subscription reminders and acknowledgements by email.

New Friends

A very warm welcome is extended to all new members.

Passing Friends

We are sad to note the passing of the following member – Harry King (1921-2013), Emeritus Associate and former Librarian of SPRI.

AGM – 9 November 2013

Notice is hereby given that the 2013 Annual General Meeting of the Friends of Scott Polar Research Institute will take place on Saturday 9 November 2013 and be held in the SPRI Lecture Theatre beginning at approx. 5:30pm. Any notices of motion should be sent in writing to Celene Pickard, Executive Secretary, Scott Polar Research Institute, Lensfield Road, Cambridge CB2 1ER (01223 336540) to reach her no later than 1 November 2013. Further information can be found on the Events page.

Calling all descendants of the men of Shackleton's expeditions

If you haven't already added your name to our database of descendants, please let Celene Pickard have your details by email at or by post at SPRI. Please include a note of your relationship to the member of the expedition and feel free to pass this request on to others who may be interested.

Get Involved

Would you like to get more involved with the work of the Friends? Please contact Celene Pickard for more information. Volunteer opportunities also exist for Friends wishing to help with front of house duties in the Polar Museum; please contact Heather Lane ( for details.

Edited by Heather Lane & Celene Pickard