Scottish woman heading to Antarctica to run post office and count penguins

The team will be responsible for managing a remote post office and museum - Image Credit: UK Antarctic Heritage Trust
The team will be responsible for managing a remote post office and museum - Image Credit: UK Antarctic Heritage Trust

A SCOTTISH woman will be amongst those heading to a distant part of Antarctica to run the world’s most remote post office and count the island’s penguins.

Mairi Hilton, from Bo’ness near Falkirk, is part of a team which beat a record number of applicants to become responsible for managing historic site Port Lockroy on Goudier Island.

The team are set to abandon home comforts to live and work in the region without any running water or a flushing toilet.

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Hilton said: “This will be my first time in Antarctica and I’m very excited to set eyes on the white continent.

“I have no idea what to expect when we get there – how cold it will be, will we have to dig our way through the snow to the post office?

“I’m a conservation biologist so personally I can’t wait to see the penguins and other wildlife like seabirds and whales”

As well as dealing with sub-zero temperatures and almost constant daylight, the women will share the island with a colony of gentoo penguins, which Hilton will be in charge of monitoring.

She will be joined by Clare Ballantyne from Lincolnshire, newlywed Natalie Corbett, from Hampshire, and Lucy Bruzzone.

Penguins on Port Lockroy - Image Credit: UK Antarctic Heritage Trust

The four women were among 6000 people who expressed an interest in the roles, which were advertised by the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust (UKAHT) charity.

The team will also be joined by Vicky Inglis from Aberdeenshire, a general assistant during the 2019/20 season, who will help the women settle in for the first 10 weeks.

Inglis said: “Port Lockroy holds a very special place in my heart. Having spent five months out there before the Covid-19 pandemic, I’m excited to be travelling with the new team to introduce them to the magic of the Antarctic.”

The location of Port Lockroy

The team will be based on the island for five months, spending Christmas together and taking care of the charity’s flagship site, Port Lockroy – home to the world’s most remote post office and museum.

Training for the trip, which will see the team travel 9000 miles to reopen the bay for the first time since the pandemic – includes learning remote first aid and a talk from a “penguinologist”.