19 May 2015

Antarctica - this team has what it takes

The United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust’s search for a team of four to spend five months at Port Lockroy in the Antarctic Peninsula, culminates in two day selection programme
Each year, the United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust’s (UKAHT) UK team, based in Cambridge, search for four dedicated individuals to spend five months at its flagship site, Port Lockroy – a historic former science base on a tiny island on the Antarctic Peninsula.

Competition was fierce; over 2400 applications were received from more than 75 countries. Shortlisting was a huge task for the Cambridge team, but they managed to narrow the field down to sixteen candidates who then had a telephone interview before being selected as one of twelve put forward for a demanding two-day selection process.

The selection days took place at Mepal Outdoor Centre on the 11th and 12th May and consisted of a full programme of activities and interviews designed to test candidates’ practical skills, communication, team-building, fitness, logic and spatial awareness, as well as their knowledge of Antarctica and desire to work in this remote location.

Anna Malaos, Antarctic Operations Manager for the UKAHT commented: “The selection days are an ideal opportunity to spend an extended amount of time with the candidates to evaluate each individual’s strengths and abilities. The final team will live and work in very close proximity to each other for five months, with no opportunity to leave the island, therefore it’s critical that we choose a team that will get on with each other and form a strong bond to support each other throughout the season, whilst carrying out the tasks that are crucial to maintaining Port Lockroy as a location of historic interest.”

Port Lockroy (British Base A) is situated on Goudier Island in the Antarctic Peninsula. First recognised as a location of historical importance following a conservation survey undertaken by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), Port Lockroy was designated Historic Site and Monument No. 61 under the Antarctic Treaty in 1995. The buildings were restored in 1996 by a team from the BAS and have since been open to visitors during the Antarctic summer. UKAHT took over the running of Port Lockroy in 2006.

Port Lockroy is also a destination for many around the world who wish to experience and learn more about the Antarctic. During the summer months (November to March) approximately 18,000 visitors will visit Port Lockroy on board expedition vessels touring the region and the new team will welcome these visitors and give them an insight into life on a scientific base in Antarctica in the 1950s. The team will be responsible for the care and maintenance of the museum and buildings, as well as monitoring any impact on wildlife, through surveys of the resident gentoo penguin colony and record the number of visitors and ships visiting the area. In accordance with the Antarctic Treaty, the UKAHT Port Lockroy team will also ensure strict guidelines on the care of the environment are adhered to. The UKAHT also run the post-office at Port Lockroy on behalf of the Government of the British Antarctic Territory, from which 70,000 cards are posted each year for delivery in over 100 countries.

Camilla Nichol, Chief Executive said: “Undertaking a season at Port Lockroy is not for the faint hearted and the selection process is a rigorous test of all those qualities needed for life in the Antarctic. It was a tough decision as the field was so strong, but I am delighted that we have managed to assemble a team who we are confident will deliver another successful season at Port Lockroy”

The successful team for the 2015/16 season at Port Lockroy are:

  • Adele Jackson from Clayton West in Huddersfield
  • Laura Martin from Kingussie, Inverness-shire
  • Rachel Morris from Saffron Walden in Essex
  • Iain Pringle from Nocton, Lincolnshire

The team bring together a diverse range of skills from living and working in extreme environments to heritage sector and project management experience. Above all, each has an over-arching interest in Antarctica and a desire to be part of the living history of Port Lockroy.

From here the team will be trained in all aspects of work and life at Port Lockroy and will re-unite in Cambridge in September for a week long training course to equip them with the additional knowledge and skills they will need to successfully navigate their season in Antarctica. 

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