UKAHT team unite for training in Cambridge to equip them for their season in Antarctica. The 2015/16 Port Lockroy team are put through their paces prior to leaving for Port Lockroy in the Antarctic Peninsula.
Each year, the United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust (UKAHT) send a team of four to live and work on Port Lockroy during the Austral summer (November – March). Applications for the posts were unprecedented this year with the final four having to fight off competition from 2,500 other applicants to get through to interview and on to the final selection weekend.
To prepare the chosen teams for their Antarctic season, the UKAHT organise a training week each year. Held at Girton College, Cambridge the week is an opportunity for the current team to spend time getting to know each other as well as learn more about the Antarctic Peninsula, Port Lockroy and the varied tasks and responsibilities they will have whilst there to maintain Port Lockroy as a location of historic interest.
Port Lockroy is a destination for many around the world wishing to experience and learn more about the Antarctic. Approximately 18,000 visitors will visit Port Lockroy on board expedition vessels touring the region and part of the team’s role will be to 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 as well as recording the number of visitors and ships visiting the area. In accordance with the Antarctic Treaty, they 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. Management of the post-office falls under the responsibility of the team whilst they are there.
To equip them for all these tasks, the team – Adele Jackson, Laura Martin, Rachel Morris and Iain Pringle – have spent the week hearing from experts in every aspect of life in Antarctica. The diverse programme included a session on the Antarctic Treaty – the international perspective, delivered by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Polar Regions Department; an introduction to British Antarctic Survey (BAS) wildlife monitoring and environmental data collection lead by a penguinologist at BAS and interactive role play to help the team deal with the variety of situations that could arise when dealing with the many visitors that will arrive at Port Lockroy throughout the season.
Rachel Morris commented of the week: “Being selected for the Port Lockroy team is incredibly special. The opportunity to work in Antarctica is the chance of a lifetime and I was delighted to be selected as part of the team.
“Our training schedule was very thorough. We learned a lot about life on Goudier Island, the history of Port Lockroy and practical skills like first aid. I feel as prepared as possible for the work we will do. Perhaps even more importantly, our week of training allowed the four of us to bond as a team, which is vital given the close quarters we will live in.”
Camilla Nichol, Chief Executive added: “Having assembled a really great team from the 2,500 applications received we now need to equip them for life at Port Lockroy. We ask a lot of the team when we send them to Antarctica with each team member having responsibility for a very broad and diverse set of duties whilst there. We have put together an in-depth, interactive programme of training to ensure that they are able to look after the historic buildings and their artefacts, create unforgettable visitor experiences for the 18,000+ visitors they will see and, most importantly, ensure their experience of a lifetime living in one of the most remote places on Earth is memorable, safe and rewarding.”
The team will arrive in Port Lockroy in November to begin putting their new-found knowledge into practice. Whilst there they will be sending regular blog reports back to the Cambridge based UKAHT team, allowing the wider world to get a taste of what life is like on this most remote peninsula. Blogs will be made available via the UKAHT website.
To read the full press release click here.