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FMNH Annual Lecture: "Securing our Heritage in Antarctica" 4 November 2008

Members of the Friends of Manx National Heritage were entertained to a fascinating lecture by Philippa Foster-Back OBE, Chairman of the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust, after their annual meeting on Tuesday.

The UK AHT is responsible, amongst other things, for looking after and preserving the various historic expedition huts in Antarctica. Added interest was the fact that the speaker is herself the granddaughter of Frank Debenham who was the geologist on Capt Scott’s ill fated expedition in 1910-1913. Captain Scott’s Hut, Cape Evans, Antarctica

With a wonderful array of slides, the lecture described the geography of Antarctica and outlined the history of exploration in the region. It then brought the audience up to date with what the huts look like now and gave an overview of some of the issues facing Antarctica today.

A number of people in the audience had been down to Antarctica and were perhaps shown what they weren’t able to see on their visits! The hut at Port Lockroy, for example, is a wonderfully preserved time warp but also a post office! Scott’s Hut is much as it was left in 1913 with all the artefacts – including food from Harrods – still in evidence.

In giving the vote of thanks Mike Fayle, Chairman of FMNH said:

“The lecture was a testament to the fortitude and courage of early explorers and gave a real insight into the conditions those scientists and conservationists have to work in today. Having the family link really brought the lecture alive and we are so grateful to Philippa to have spared us the time from her incredibly busy schedule to come and explain the important work of the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust”.

Kirsty Neate, MNH Curatorial Officer said:

“On Tuesday evening I was transported from the wintry streets of Douglas to the snow fields of Antarctica by Philippa’s fantastic talk. The affectionate way she referred to the endeavours of her Grandfather and the insight she gave to the current conservation work happening down at the South Pole brought the continuing story of Antarctica to life.”

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