This is Mary Cleveland’s Report from her recent Antarctic conference

This is Mary Cleveland’s Report from her recent Antarctic conference

I think I can say the event went very well, I have had some very positive feedback, and everyone who attended said they enjoyed it, and learnt something – even the experts. A couple of lady visitors, who happened to walk in by chance to the first lecture, and subsequently came to all of them, told me it had really made their holiday.

Although I had hoped for a few more people, the event was well attended considering that most of it was held during the day, and there was a good balance of visitors and locals. Also in the audience we had two of Captain Scott’s great grandchildren Lucy and Adam with their mother, one direct descendant of Captain Oates, three other representatives of the Oates family, and eight of Edward Wilson’s descendants, and of course Hermann Gran, the son of Tryggve Gran the Norwegian who was on the actual Terra Nova Expedition. They all told me that they had learnt things from the lectures and had enjoyed the event, and for some it was their first visit to Scilly. They were very impressed with what they managed to see and several mentioned coming back for a holiday with their families. Most of the visitors went to the Museum, and were very complimentary about the standard of it, and wished they had been able to spend more time there as there was so much to see.

I had tried to get a wide variety of topics rather than just concentrate on the expedition story which everyone knows so well. I knew I had chosen excellent speakers, but they really were all superb and did me proud. Dr David Wilson started the proceedings with a fabulous talk about the Terra Nova Expedition, and the day was crowned by Jenny Coverack’s inspirational evening performance of her production of “A Father for my Son,” which is the moving story about the life of Kathleen Scott, the wife of Captain Scott.

The following day started with a fascinating talk by Hermann Gran the son of the Norwegian Tryggve Gran, who was a member of the Terra Nova Expedition, and who found the bodies of Captain Scott and the Polar Party in the tent. He spoke of his Father who was selected by Scott for his skiing and dog handling expertise, but told us he was also an accomplished aviator, explorer and author. He was the first person to fly across the North Sea, and at the outbreak of the First World War he came to Britain to volunteer for the Royal Flying Corps, he was later awarded the Military Cross, for Distinguished War Service. He also spoke of the influence of the great Fridtjof Nansen, most of Hermann’s talk was completely new material for everyone present.

Then it was the turn of John Killingbeck who spoke with such passion and enthusiasm about his dogs and the last ever dog team expedition in Antarctica. He gave a demonstration of sledge driving, and also went to the school and where he gave a similar talk and demonstration to the pupils. Thanks must also go to the Steamship Company for safely transporting the sledge to and from the mainland. Unfortunately John had to leave before the end of the event, as he and Jenny were taking part in the final Scott 100 celebrations in Cardiff.

In the afternoon Christopher J Wilson gave a wonderful talk on the Art of Edward Wilson, illustrated with the breathtaking paintings and sketches done during both Scott’s Discovery and Terra Nova Expeditions, amazing considering the conditions he was working under much of the time.

Next it was the turn of Dr Max Jones, Senior lecturer in Modern History at Manchester University, who gave an excellent talk entitled Dr Livingstone to Captain Scott: the Royal Geographical Society and the Age of the Explorer Hero 1856-1914

In the evening there was an incredibly moving production of “These Rough Notes,” with a cast which was almost entirely made up from the Wilson family.

The last lecture on Wednesday afternoon was by Dr David Wilson on Scott 100, another fabulous talk in which he took us through the various celebrations of the last twelve months which started with a Service in St Paul’s Cathedral. He went on to talk about the continuing legacy of the last hundred years. He asked that people didn’t concentrate on the tragic deaths of Captain Scott and his party, but urged us instead to celebrate their legacy of scientific heritage and achievements, which are still so important and have implications for us even today a hundred years on.

This was followed by a moving performance by folk singer Jake Wilson (no relation) of his album “All’s Well,” which conjures up these extraordinary men in song – drawing on their own words to imagine the final thoughts of Edgar Evans, Lawrence Oates, Edward Wilson, Henry Bowers and Captain Scott. He spoke about how he had been inspired to write the songs, and about performing in Scott’s Hut at Cape Evans in Antarctica.

The Event started with a Welcome Lunch at the Atlantic Hotel and finished with a Farewell Dinner at Tregarthen’s Hotel, both of which were well attended and praised by all, for the quality of their food, and the service. Congratulations too to the various establishments where people stayed, as they were all very satisfied with their accommodation, and the way they were made to feel welcome.

My thanks are also due to Beryl Read, Chris Cox and Richard Farr who so did so much to help during the three days, and also to Reverend Gibbs for the use of the Methodist Chapel and Hall.

Thanks also to the Event Sponsors :
The Isles of Scilly Council’s Community Fund. The Steamship Company who gave discounted travel rates for the speakers. Radio Scilly Lottery. Isles of Scilly Rotary Club.
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