The training week - August 2010
The months have been speeding by this summer, with plenty of activity surrounding preparation for the forthcoming UKAHT season in Antarctica. August brought with it the infamous 'Training Week' for the teams (now plural!), which was excitedly anticipated by all - we were looking forward to catching up and ticking off tasks in Wales with Rachel, Tudor and the dogs! The sessions kicked off with the lunchtime arrival of Anna Malaos, Dave Burkitt and Nikki Rickett; Ylva Grams, Hen Joannidi and Hannele Luukkainnen having already made a timely appearance to coincide with the despatch of several pallets onto a lorry - not an uncommon sight at Kingcoed at this time of year!
Fortunately, we were blessed with beautiful sunshine for Day 1 - making for a very enjoyable first session in the garden with tea and cake, whilst we went through a fascinating history of science and bases in Antarctica as well as the origins of the AHT, a review of the Ops Manual, discussions over travel itineraries and elaboration on the division of roles/responsibilities both back in the UK and whilst in Antarctica.
The newest members of the team listened especially keenly as Tudor and Rachel explained how the Trust works with the British Antarctic Survey, the Scott Polar Research Institute, all within the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's overall heritage strategy.
Dave, who was part of the original team that restored Port Lockroy back in 1996, was invaluable in sharing his experience of the major challenge that lay ahead in sifting through the decay that beset Bransfield House, and the clean up of other bases in the late 1990s. Anna talked through the delicacies of living and working in a museum environment, and the approach to artefacts at Bransfield House and other sites, which really bring that 'golden era of exploration' alive! As Conservation and Interpretation Manager, Anna is firmly ensconced in collating and updating artefact information for various databases. Hen will assist with this task on-site as Museum Coordinator on base.
We were delighted to be joined in the late afternoon by Alan Carroll, who gave a thorough presentation of the historical context of Port Lockroy and how the house itself evolved during its occupation up until 1962, engrossing us in tales of cats and dogs, super tsunamis, heroic Argentine doctors and treating us to rare recordings of eery 'whistlers' - an insight into the groundbreaking ionospheric research undertaken on Goudier Island. Alan also brought with him carefully restored artefacts from George Lewis, as well as a Stevenson Screen, which will take pride of place at Base A in the Science Room; all are now safely packaged and ready for shipping! A busy first day was topped off by a delicious BBQ!
Tuesday was set aside for the annual course in Basic First Aid, conducted by the ever-knowledgable Merv Fleming from SARA (The Severn Area Rescue Association). At the tail-end of the session we were delighted to greet Trustees John Pye (JP) and Robert Alston, Director of Antarctic Heritage Limited, and to discuss health and safety, risk assessments and future goals of the Trust - educational outreach being the hot topic of the evening!
Michael Powell and Liesl Shernthanner, together with Tudor, will be at Port Lockroy for beginning of November, completing work on the restored Nissen Hut before moving on to Damoy and Wordie, and then further south to Detaille. It was lovely for everyone to meet Mike (and we very much look forward to meeting up with Liesl in due course, who unfortunately couldn't make it this time). Tudor took the Detaille team aside to discuss logistics and plans for the season. Meanwhile, Rachel, Hannele, Hen, Ylva and Nikki were surrounded by books, postcards, T-shirts and keyrings, in a 'merchandise familiarisation' exercise. The gift shop at Port Lockroy is integral to fundraising efforts for UKAHT, and is an important part of the visitor experience. Amongst the new items for 2010-11 season that we hope will prove popular are lovely Antarctic tartan blankets, and cloth patches. With the 09-10 team having introduced some nifty and successful merchandising techniques ('Book of the Week' anyone?!) the challenge is on for shop manager Ylva and the rest of the team to ensure the shop's continuing success for this season. This year the team hopes to encourage a record number of visitors to join the Trust, aiming for long-term support of Antarctic Heritage. Online credit card transactions and swift transfer of funds to the UKAHT's account will hopefully be reinstated as soon as Jonathan Selby comes to our rescue in November and works his IT magic! Meanwhile, Ylva has the shop spreadsheet on her agenda....
All the best to Anton, who has stepped down as our main contact at the Post Office in Stanley (and thank you for your help over the years!) and we look forward to working with Moira Eccles concerning all matters philatellic! Hannele is our Post Mistress for the 10-11 season and is getting set to perfecting her franking technique, together with the rest of the team!
One thing that we are all excitedly anticipating is witnessing the comings and goings of wildlife at Goudier Island; especially Hen, our 'Wildlife Monitor and Penguin Counter'! It is such a privilege to observe the life cycle of the penguins in such minute detail. This year, Port Lockroy will be visited by Tom Hart, who is a Penguinologist at London Zoo, and will be setting up and performing a study of these amazing creatures.
An important part of the 'Training Week' is not only mental preparation for the season ahead, but also packing up boxes of stock, provision and building/maintenance equipment. Plus there is the excitement of trying on the various items of kit so kindly supplied by our sponsors such as Chocolate Fish Merino and TOG24. As the pallets of boxes will be heading out of the UK in August, the final task was to pack personal items ready for dispatch - we will not see them for a fair few months! With this done and dusted, it was time for some quick photos before bidding farewell to Hen, Hannele and Dave! Food shopping was next on the agenda and Friday afternoon turned into an intense shopping session, with stacks of tinned goods (interspersed with some little 'treats') overflowing the shopping trollies in Newport! Several hours and a torrential downpour later (the timing of the British weather is just incredible!) Tudor, Anna, Ylva and Nikki were back in the barn at Kingcoed, stacking items on pallets ready for shipping. After a respite on Friday evening, our work continued into Saturday morning, with yet more packing and preparations underway!
Shortly the pallets will be collected from Wales ready for their long journey South. Roll on November when we will see them next (those destined for Port Lockroy, at least)! A successful season requires much preparation months in advance, and this week was just a snapshot of the time, effort and forethought which is crucial to making best use of the funds raised by UKAHT in preserving Port Lockroy and securing the other historic British bases on the Peninsula. The combined high spirits, enthusiasm and energy of the team during this first week all together is we hope just the very start of another brilliant season ahead!
Nikki, Hannele, Hen, Ylva