January 2009

Rick Atkinson has been awarded the Polar Medal

Port Lockroy Base leader for the last 4 years, Rick Atkinson has been awarded the Polar Medal. Needless to say we are all absolutely delighted and feel it to more than well deserved.

Rick started his polar career with a 2 ½ year tour at the British Antarctic Survey bases of Adelaide and Rothera. In the thirty years since he first returned from the Antarctic in 1977, he lived in the Yukon spending the winters travelling by dog team. He then moved across to Alaska to compete in the Iditarod and Yukon Quest dog sled races, becoming the first British competitor to enter these races. In 1986 he won the Leonard Seppala award for humanitarian treatment of dogs. Rick is the co-author of the book Of Dogs and Men, the story of the British Antarctic Survey’s fifty years of involvement with sledge dogs. His co-author is Albert Medal and Polar Medal holder Kevin Walton (Albert Medal earned in the Antarctic).

In more recent years, beginning with working on the restoration of Port Lockroy with Simon Almond, Dave Burkitt (Polar Medal and Fuchs Medal) and Ben Hodges (Fuchs Medal) in 1996, Rick has dedicated the last four summers to working as base leader at Port Lockroy. Rick’s energy and commitment have helped to make Port Lockroy one of the most popular places to visit in the Antarctic and thereby bringing Britain’s Antarctic Heritage to tens of thousands visitors annually.

This follows last year's awarding of the Polar Medal to our Port Lockroy historian, Alan Carroll. Alan lent his expertise at Port Lockroy in December 2006, returning fifty years after he had been base leader there.