Polar field guides Julie Baum and Tom Sylvester tie the knot this weekend (15-16 July) at British Antarctic Survey’s (BAS) Rothera Research Station. It is the first official wedding to take place in the British Antarctic Territory.
The couple, who have been together for 11 years, will share their special day with 20 fellow over-winterers. A two-day celebration, beginning with a champagne breakfast, will bring 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.
Depending on weather conditions the ceremony will take place on Saturday or Sunday. The wedding will be registered with the BAT Government, based in the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. The marriage will be valid in the UK.
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.
“Over the last 10 years Tom and I have been working and travelling around the world. Getting married in Antarctica feels like it was meant to be. There is no better place really, I love snowy mountains and spending time in amazing places with awesome people.”
“Antarctica is an incredibly beautiful place and we have made such great friends here, so the setting couldn’t be better. We have always wanted to have a small personal wedding, but never imagined we’d be able to get married in one of the most remote places on Earth.”
Rothera Research Station Leader and a British Antarctic Territory (BAT) Magistrate Paul Samways will perform the ceremony. He says,
“Having spent time with Julie and Tom over the Austral summer and half of the Antarctic winter I feel amazingly privileged to be able to be part of their story. They are amazing people, and being responsible for joining them in marriage is an incredible honour.”
Julie, assisted by some of the women on station, is making her wedding dress. For her ‘something old’ she plans to sew in part of old orange pyramid tent. The tent will no doubt have a lot of history associated with it.
The ceremony will take place around lunch-time. A sumptuous wedding menu, prepared by the station chef, will be followed by a party with live music from the resident band.
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.