17 December, 2004

Polar Medal awards announced today have included several BAS staff. Two members of staff have been awarded second clasps to their Polar Medals. These are:

  • Professor John Croxall, CBE (Second Clasp), first awarded in 1992
  • Doug Bone (Second Clasp), first awarded in 1981

Other BAS staff who have been decorated for “outstanding achievement and service to Polar research with the British Antarctic Survey in the Antarctic to 2004” are:

  • Mike Gloistein
  • Matt Jobson
  • Steve Marshall
  • Captain Nigel Pearson
  • Mark Stewart
  • Steve White

Presented by the reigning monarch, the polar medal was instituted in 1904 for members of Captain Scott’s first expedition to the Antarctic. It was struck in both bronze and silver until 1939, when the award of the bronze medal was discontinued.

Initially a minimum period of service in the Antarctic of at least 12 months was required and emphasis was placed on service in support of the team effort in the harsh weather and dangerous conditions encountered, as well as on individual effort. The award was made on the recommendation of the Admiralty, or in the case of Commonwealth countries, by the appropriate Minister of State.

In 1954 the regulations governing the award of the medal were revised. It was made clear the medal was to be conferred on those who took an active part in an expedition which made notable advances in the exploration of the polar regions and underwent the hazards and rigours of the region, whether on land, sea, or in the air, and was only open to those serving an expedition organised or recognised by UK or Commonwealth governments, and that in extraordinary circumstances those supporting polar exploration, rather than directly taking part in it, could be given the medal.

Further Royal Warrants in 1970 and 1998 updated the conditions of award. Since 1998 the ‘service in support of the acquisition of knowledge of Polar regions shall normally be at least ten years’ such service in order to be considered for the medal’ and a greater emphasis is now placed on individual service.

The 1998 revision of Regulations added to the geographical area in which service was required by including a number of islands, and for the first time made reference to the United Kingdom Polar Medal Assessment Committee , made up of distinguished individuals with a wide knowledge of polar affairs who are responsible for examining recommendations received for the award of the medal.