We were delighted to welcome our Patrons, Sponsors and Supporters to our pre-departure event onboard the HQS WELLINGTON, on the Thames, last night. It was absolutely wonderful to be able to provide some small measure of thanks to all those that have supported us by providing an insight into the expedition and our plans. General Richard Nugee, the Non-Executive Director for Climate Change & Sustainability for the MOD, started off the presentation by explaining the Expeditions importance from a perspective of the UK leading on Climate Change and Sustainability. Of great importance to the Expedition Team was a letter of support from the Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Nick Carter GCB CBE DSO ADC, who quoted Shackleton’s own words about the Expedition, saying “To be brave cheerily, to be patient with a glad heart, to stand the agonies of thirst with laughter and song, to walk beside death for months and never be sad – that’s the spirit that makes courage worth having”. General Sir Nick also said that the Expedition would be an inspiration to future generations of scientists and explorers.
Then, the Hon. Alexandra Shackleton, explained to the audience how the Expedition was following fully in the Spirit of her Grandfather, Sir Ernest Shackleton and his involvement in the Heroic Age of Polar Exploration. She highlighted the Expedition team are truly stepping into the unknown to further the bounds of understanding and knowledge about Antarctica, just as her Grandfather had 100 years ago. She highlighted the fact that the Expedition Team are a private expedition, without any formal government or institutional support and with nothing more that private backing to make this happen, and this was exactly as it had been with her Grandfather.
Thereafter, the Expedition Leader, Paul Hart gave a brief insight of what it is like to operate on the Antarctic Peninsula, with some hair-raising videos of the conditions the team will face. This was followed by a superb explanation of the science programme of the expedition by the Expedition Science Coordinator, Dr Charlotte Braungardt. Dr Braungardt was able to put the extremely complex issues relating to our impact on Antarctica, into a totally understandable format that enabled the audience to appreciate how every individual can take action to reduce their own input into the negative effects we are having. The presentation then moved on to our Educational Outreach programme, which was led by the Expedition Deputy Leader, Dr Antony Jinman. Antony vitalised the crowd with his message about his own inspirational journey to becoming a Polar Explorer and how he works tirelessly to create the same opportunities for today’s school populations.
The formal presentation then ended with a brief by our Expedition Doctor, Alex Cross, and the CEO of BetterYou Ltd, Mr Andy Thomas, on how we will be supported by BetterYou Ltd products, to maintain our peak physical and mental performance on the ice. Finally, there was an auction of items, of which our great friends at Elliot-Brown Watches contributed one of a limited edition of their prestigious watches, which alone raised a four figure sum for the expedition. The Expedition Team were completely overwhelmed by the level of support and sheer good will that was evidenced by the audience, as they provided additional financial support to allow an enduring legacy of Antarctic learning to be delivered through the Expeditions Educational Outreach Programme. As an Expedition, we remain so deeply indebted to our partners and supporters that it is hard to provide words that describe our appreciation. We can only ask, that our efforts to provide a valuable contribution to the understanding of what is happening in the pristine environment of Antarctica and how we can minimise our impact, is sufficient to justify that psychological investment in us.