Published 21st June 2020

Midwinter’s Day 2020

Today, 21 June, is Midwinter Day in the British Antarctic Territory.  This annual event, which has its origins with Captain Scott, marks the mid-point of the Antarctic winter.

HM Commissioner to the British Antarctic Territory, Ben Merrick, has written to the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) personnel currently stationed in Antarctica.

HM Commissioner, Ben Merrick, in Antarctica

I am writing to send my thanks to you all as we celebrate Midwinter Day.  As you experience the long dark days, isolated from friends and family, I hope you can mark the festivities with positivity and feel proud of the work you are undertaking.  It does not go unnoticed or unappreciated.

At a time of a global pandemic when many of us in the UK are experiencing our own isolation from others, I have a renewed admiration for jobs you do, isolated in Rothera station. Many of us also have a renewed appreciation of the little things and for the natural world.  You play a vital role in helping us understand the planet on which we live – whether you are at the forefront of scientific research or supporting research by helping keep Rothera running. Each and every one of you are playing an essential role, and I applaud you.

Despite the onset of the pandemic toward the end of this year’s Antarctic season, it nevertheless has been a tremendously successful year. The completion of the new wharf, a feat of engineering itself, will allow the RRS Sir David Attenborough to come safely alongside at Rothera in the years to come. Meanwhile the start of the wider modernisation of Rothera reaffirms the UK’s commitment to Antarctic research and to our presence in the British Antarctic Territory. Our commitment to Antarctic science and to protecting the Antarctic environment I believe is fitting way to mark this year’s 200th anniversary of the discovery of continent.

Stay safe, take time to unwind and I hope you enjoy the Midwinter celebrations.