Saffron Walden woman chosen from 2,400 people for Antarctic mission

Rachel Morris adventure.

Rachel Morris adventure. - Credit: Archant

A young woman from Saffron Walden with a lifelong ambition to work in the Antarctic has been chosen from 2,400 people to work there.

Rachel Morris, an aviation journalist, is one of four people to have been recruited by the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust to spend five months working in Port Lockroy on Goudier Island in the Antarctic Peninsula.

The island is remote but the four are unlikely to be lonely. Rachel, 34, said: “We will be working at the museum where we are expecting 18,000 tourists in four months. It will be hard work. There will be no free time at all. The days are long, there will be 24-hour daylight at midsummer.”

The thousands of applicants came from 75 countries. The selection process meant that 16 people were interviewed by telephone and the final 12 were put through a two-day selection course at the Mepal Outdoor Centre, near Ely, including exercise challenges, team building and a presentation. Rachel’s was on the explorer Ernest Shackleton.

Rachel, a former pupil at St Mary’s Cambridge, spent 10 years working at Duxford Imperial War Museum organising air shows. She told the Reporter: “I have wanted to work in the Antarctic since I was a teenager but I am not a scientist and I have no skills, I couldn’t do plumbing so I first went there as a tourist on a cruise in 2013. I visited the Falkland Islands, South George and the Antarctic and I realised that there is a museum and I might be able to work there.”

She then found a job at the South Georgia Museum where she worked for six months, returning to Britain last month.

She said: “The Antarctic is a wildlife’s enthusiast’s paradise. It is a small island but we will share it with 2,000 gentoo penguins, some seals and if we are lucky, there might be whales in the bay.”

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She said she was most looking forward to the scenery. “It is a really stunning place, you look up and see snow-covered mountains and glaciers and you are waking up to that every morning.”

Anna Malaos, Antarctic operations manager for the Antarctic Heritage Trust said: “The team will live and work in very close proximity to each other. There will be no chance to leave the island. So it’s critical that they get on and form a strong bond to support each other throughout the season, whilst carrying out the tasks that are crucial to maintaining Port Lockroy as a location of historic interest.”

Before leaving in November for the Antarctic’s summer, which runs from November to March, the team will have a week’s training in Cambridge where the Heritage Trust is based.