31 January, 2018

Three British Antarctic Survey (BAS) staff have been awarded the Polar Medal, and one member of staff has been awarded a prestigious Second Clasp. The announcement was published last week (Friday 26 January) in the London Gazette.

Captain Mark Beasley, Antarctic Pilot and Training Captain, receives the Polar Medal in recognition of his work flying specialist aircraft in support of Polar science in Antarctica.

British Antarctic Survey Pilot and Training Captain Mark Beasley.

Polar Soil Biologist Dr Kevin Newsham joined BAS in 1997 and specialises in soil fungi and nutrient cycling. His Polar Medal is awarded for his work in the Polar Regions which draws on 25 years of research in soil and plant ecology. Dr Newsham studies the influence of environmental change on soil microbes and plants in Arctic and Antarctic ecosystems.

Dr Kevin Newsham awarded the Polar Medal for his work on soil and plant ecology in the Polar Regions. Photo credit: Elise Biersma.

James Wake has worked at BAS since 2007 and his roles have included Field Guide, Station Leader and Traverse Leader for the iSTAR tractor traverse. His Polar Medal is awarded for his management of complex operational challenges in Antarctica.

British Antarctic Survey Field Operations Manager James Wake.

Nicholas Cox received a second clasp to his Polar Medal. Nicholas has worked at BAS for over 40 years and was awarded the Polar Medal in 1993, the second clasp highlights his continued service developing an international research community at the UK’s Ny-Ålesund Research Station in the Arctic, where he has worked as Station Leader since it was established in 1991.

Nicolas Cox, Station Leader at Ny-Ålesund.

The Polar Medal is awarded by HM The Queen to personnel who have given valued service in the Polar Regions.

The first polar award was called the Arctic Medal, which was presented twice in the 19th century. First to the men who engaged in a search expedition to discover the fate of Sir John Franklin and his crew who were lost while looking for the Northwest Passage in 1847. The second presentation of the Arctic Medal was to the crews of three ships exploring the Arctic in 1875–76.

In 1904, the Polar Medal was inaugurated for members of Captain Scott’s first expedition to Antarctica. Subsequent medals were awarded to members of Ernest Shackleton’s expeditions in 1907–09 and 1914–17.