17 July, 2017

Polar field guides Julie Baum and Tom Sylvester tied the knot on Saturday (15 July) at British Antarctic Survey’s (BAS) Rothera Research Station.  This was the first official wedding to take place in the British Antarctic Territory.

The couple, who have been together for 11 years, shared their special day with 20 fellow over-winterers. A two-day celebration, began on Saturday with a champagne breakfast, brought much excitement and joy to the team that is currently living and working in freezing temperatures with limited daylight and 30 miles per hour wind gusting over the station.

Julie and her friends made the wedding dress, the skirt being made from an old pyramid tent

The ceremony took place in a specially designed and decorated chapel on Saturday.  The wedding will be registered with the BAT Government, based in the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.  The marriage will be valid in the UK.

A specially made ‘chapel’ was created for the wedding ceremony

Julie and Tom are experienced mountaineers with careers as mountain instructors and expedition leaders.  They have been engaged for three years.  When both were selected to join BAS in 2016 to manage deep-field science expeditions everyone at Rothera joked that they should get married.

Three iced wedding cakes were prepared by the resident chef at Rothera Research Station

Julie, assisted by some of her friends on station, made her wedding dress.  For her ‘something old’ she used part of old orange pyramid tent for the skirt.  The tent will no doubt have a lot of history associated with it. Following the ceremony, which was held around noon, the couple posed for photos outside in temperatures of -9 degrees centigrade. They then set off in their wedding vehicle, a sno-cat. As the couple decided to get married after being in Antarctica, Tom made the wedding rings out of brass by learning to use the lathe in the metal workshop.

About Julie Baum and Tom Sylvester

Julie and Tom first met at an outdoor instructor apprenticeship scheme at the Plas Y Brenin Outdoor Centre in North Wales.  They share a love of outdoor pursuits and have both worked as expedition leaders around the world including Northern India, Nepal, Peru, Ecuador, Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Borneo, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.

Julie was born in Birmingham, lived in Yoxall.  She studied Watersports and Adventure Activities Management at University before working as a Mountaineering instructor.

Tom was born and raised in Sheffield.  He has a degree in Outdoor Studies from Manchester Metropolitan University and has worked as a mountaineering instructor before joining BAS.

This is the first marriage since the BAT marriage law was reformed in 2016; the reform made it easier for marriages to be arranged in the Territory, and also updated the relevant paperwork for same sex marriages.

Further information about marriage in the British Antarctic Territory can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/getting-married-in-antarctica

Rothera Research Station, the largest British Antarctic Survey facility, is a centre for biological research and a hub for supporting deep-field and air operations.  Situated on Adelaide Island to the west of the Antarctic Peninsula the site includes the Bonner research laboratory, offices and workshops and a crushed rock runway, hanger and wharf.  Rothera supports a wide range of BAS, UK university and international collaborative science programmes including the Dirck Gerritsz laboratory that is operated by the Netherlands polar research programme.