Meet the team: 10 questions with Roddy Bedford

We chat with UKAHT’s head of retail about the challenges of running a shop in Antarctica.

Meet the team: 10 questions with Roddy Bedford

We chat with UKAHT’s head of retail about the challenges of running a shop in Antarctica.

Meet the team: 10 questions with Roddy Bedford


We chat with UKAHT’s head of retail about the challenges of running a shop in Antarctica.

1. Tell us about yourself

I’ve spent most of my working life retailing within the heritage sector. My specialism is buying and creating bespoke products from world-famous collections. I have lived in Oxfordshire with my partner for 24 years, along with a succession of rescue border collies. Our incumbent is Wilf whose lack of intelligence is more than made up for by his unintentional comedy!

Roddy working with new recruits (Credit: Ruth Mullett/UKAHT)

We’re fortunate to live right by the Ridgeway, a walking trail that passes through the North Wessex Downs and the Chilterns. Walking along the ancient route is a real salve; there is no other place that connects me so immediately to the past. I volunteer with two local charities that support older, vulnerable and lonely members of my community. Oh, and I love a good historical novel.

2. What does a normal day at UKAHT look like for you?

Every day is different! Today I’ve been talking to a British supplier about a new homeware range for our online shop, writing the Retail Operations Manual for the team heading to Port Lockroy this season and working on our Christmas Shopping campaign. Tomorrow, I’m meeting with tour operators to discuss selling UKAHT merchandise onboard their vessels, crunching some sales figures and organising a photoshoot! I joined the team in January 2023 so I’m extremely excited for my first full season.

3. What made you want to work for UKAHT?

I’ve been immensely fortunate to work with unique historic houses, museums, libraries and galleries, but no job has quite prepared me for working with UKAHT. The concept of running and curating a shop in Antarctica from the comfort of my little cottage is frankly absurd! The challenge spurred my decision – how do you get an informative till system to work without wifi in this day and age? If we stock silver jewellery at Port Lockroy, will the atmosphere tarnish the stock? It will! I learn something new every day.

sunset over rolling green hills

Roddy enjoys walking the Ridgeway (Credit: Helen Hotson/Shutterstock)

4. Tell us about an experience that changed you

The day after I finished my finals, my housemates and I went to Tenby and took a boat trip to Caldey Island. The sense of relief that we’d completed our exams was mixed with a palpable sadness that our salad days were drawing to a close. We took to the waters on the most glorious of May days, passed seals and lazily observed the endeavours of gannets and puffins as we made our way to the monastic island. The easy companionship, with the shared experience of university and the certainty of calm continuity that the little isle imbued, has stuck with me and remains one of the most unexpectedly joyous days of my life.

5. What's your favourite UKAHT site?

I have a soft spot for Wordie House. It’s one of the earliest surviving buildings and had the longest occupation of 49 years and 31 days. The current structure is based on the foundation of a hut from the mid-1930s. The surviving contents show how basic yet welcome the domesticity would have been.

Wordie House (Credit: Anna Malaos/UKAHT)

6. What's your favourite species of penguin?

Easy! Gentoos are my favourite species of penguin. They make themselves at home at Port Lockroy alongside our teams. I’m not sure who’s more curious about living alongside whom.

7. What luxury item would you take if you were working at Port Lockroy for the season?

Entirely impractical and against every rule in the book (dogs are banned in Antarctica), but I think it would have to be my dog, Wilf. He’d keep the team’s feet warm and he could round up visitors when it’s time for them to leave the site at the end of their visit.

Unfortunately, Wilf couldn't accompany Roddie to Port Lockroy (Credit: Roddie Bedford)

8. Tell us about a dream trip or experience you still want to take

It’s an open secret at UKAHT that I’m not one for intrepid journeys or beset with wanderlust. However, I would love to go on an agritourism break in Italy. Being part of a local team harvesting grapes and olives, living and working in the glorious sunshine and taking local authentic products to ancient village markets would be a dreamy way to spend a summer. I’m sure it would be tough work, but I’d wind down in the evenings by watching the sunset, slurping wine and enjoying wonderful fresh Italian meals.

9. If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?

I see first-hand the negative impact that loneliness has on my community, especially for older people. An acknowledgement, phone call, or chat in a supermarket queue can change someone’s day, making that person feel seen and connected.

10. Could you tell us about something you have learned while working at UKAHT? 

I hadn’t appreciated the wealth of archived blogs, webinars and podcasts that are freely available on our website. Each topic is well-researched and offers a different angle on Antarctic subjects. It is a treasure trove of knowledge.

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