AROUND 140 people, including 50 Scots, have gathered for the biggest-ever Burns supper held in Antarctica.
Workers at the British Antarctic Survey’s Rothera Research Station in Antarctica celebrated the life of Robert Burns on Saturday at what is believed to be the world’s most southerly knees-up.
Kilt-wearing Rob Kerr was one of the organisers and enjoyed playing some traditional Scottish reels on his accordion to get the after-dinner ceilidh in full swing.
Site agent Rob, 33, from Newton Stewart, Wigtownshire, said: “We might be in one of the remotest places on Earth, but nothing can stop Scots from celebrating Burns Night.
“My father is an accordionist at Newton Stewart Burns Club and I am sure he will be proud of the continued family involvement in celebrating Burns.”
Dad-of-two Rob was deployed to Antarctica in November and says the Burns supper is the perfect morale booster for those spending long periods away from loved ones.
He added: “It’s been strange being away for Christmas and New Year. It was a bitter-sweet experience because it’s amazing to get a chance to work in a place like this.
“Events like this are so important because they help break up the long season into wee milestones to look forward to.
“Rothera has a diverse culture, and it is nice to share these traditions with those who have not experienced it before. People were really looking forward to this, although they probably changed their mind when they heard me on the accordion.
“I was proud to be wearing my kilt, although I’ll be staying indoors as much as possible as it can be a bit nippy outside.”
Rothera Research Station has been part of a UK Government polar infrastructure investment programme which has been conducting climate change research in Antarctica and the Arctic.
Last Wednesday marked the 250th anniversary of British polar exploration since Captain James Cook on HMS Resolution became the first ship to cross the Antarctic Circle in 1773.
Today, in stark contrast to Captain Cook’s all-male crew, it’s women who dominate the leadership.
Scots meteorologist Mairi Simms has been on her 11th deployment to Rothera Research Station as science co-ordinator and was chief organiser for the Burns supper.
Mairi, 29, from Pitlochry, Perthshire, said: “The haggis was shipped over a while ago on RRS Sir David Attenborough. Once we’d defrosted it, we had plenty for 140 guests. We had everything you’d expect from a Burns Supper, including the address to the haggis, the immortal memory, address to the lassies and reply to the laddies and lots of people reciting poems and singing.”
She added: “When I first came down here in 2012, it was going to be a one-off adventure of a lifetime before I settled back into ‘normal’ life but I absolutely fell in love with the place. Everyone here is passionate about supporting research which is crucial as we tackle the effects of climate change.”
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said: “I’d like to toast Scots celebrating Burns Night across the world, even in Antarctica. The UK Government is proud to support British scientists at the forefront of polar research, as we lead the world on getting to grips with climate change. Our ongoing investment in science demonstrates our determination to build on the legacy of COP26 in Glasgow to drive forward a greener future to save our planet.”
The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, which has employed 16,000 staff in 179 countries and territories, has been using Burns Night to promote Scotland internationally across the world.
Diplomats at posts including Australia, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Ivory Coast, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Poland, South Sudan, Uzbekistan and Venezuela have all been flying the flag for Scotland by hosting Burns suppers.
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Publish date : 2023-01-25 05:04:01