CHARITY working to raise awareness of British Antarctic heritage has celebrated a landmark anniversary at Westminster.

The United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust (UKAHT) marked the 70th anniversary of Operation Tabarin, which laid the foundations for one of the most important and enduring government sponsored programmes of scientific research in the Polar Regions, with a special exhibition and reception at the Houses of Parliament.

Antarctic Heritage Trust ayt the House of Commons

David Davies MP receiving one of the Union flags flown at Port Lockroy during the 2013/14 season from Jane Rumble, Head of the Polar Regions Unit at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and Rachel Morgan, Director of UKAHT.

UKAHT conserves early British scientific bases and artefacts in Antarctica and promotes and encourages public interest in Antarctic heritage both at home and abroad. The charity works to ensure that the legacy from this heroic age of exploration and scientific endeavour remains to inspire current and future generations.

Supporters and MPs from across the UK gathered in the Terrace Pavilion at the House of Commons on Monday 16th June for a special reception to help UKAHT commemorate 70 years of continuous British presence in Antarctica.

Monmouth MP David Davies hosted the event and was joined by the Rt Hon David Willetts MP, Minister for Universities and Science, in officially opening proceedings.  

Mr Davies said:

“I’m especially pleased that Wales has such a strong connection with Antarctica and extremely proud of the fact the Trust Director, Rachel Morgan, is based here in Monmouthshire.

“Wales has a very important Antarctic story to tell and this remarkable charity is keeping it alive today.”

Among the invited guests was 90 year-old George James from Cardiff, one of the last survivors of Operation Tabarin. Mr James was a wireless operator on a support vessel, HMS William Scoresby, and attended the reception with his two sons and grandson.

The event also introduced the forthcoming BBC Natural World documentary ‘Penguin Post Office’ filmed on the Antarctic Peninsula earlier this year. UKAHT runs the world’s most southerly public post office on behalf of the Government of the British Antarctic Territory at Port Lockroy. Around 70,000 cards are posted each year from the post office by visitors to over 100 countries.

Donald Lamont, Chair of UKAHT, added:

“We are proud to celebrate what has been achieved through the restoration of Port Lockroy, one of the stations built during Operation Tabarin, instigated by the political decision taken in 1943 to open three stations in the Antarctic Peninsula.

“It is now the most visited site in Antarctica and will reach an even wider audience through the filming that was carried out this season for broadcast later this year.”

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