James borrell is a conservation scientist and science communicator, with a particular interest in how species adapt to changing climate.

ISCE Press Release: Following in the footsteps of Captain Scott

A budding explorer from Essex who has been inspired by Captain Robert Scott of the Antarctic, will have the chance to prove that they have got what it takes to follow in the legendary Royal Navy Officer’s footsteps during an exercise held at HMS Raleigh, in Cornwall, next week.

James Borrell, aged 20, is one of ten candidates who have been shortlisted to take part in the International Scott Centenary Expedition (ISCE) after entering a competition run by the expedition organisers and the Daily Telegraph.  The aim of the expedition is to visit Scott’s last camp, where he and two other men perished from exposure and starvation 100 years ago.  Two of Scott’s comrades had died earlier in the mission.

James Borrell is a final year biologist studying at the University of Exeter. James said “This centenary is literally a once in a lifetime event, and I feel very privileged to be some way involved with remembering this great man.” James’s first expedition was to the rainforests of Madagascar with the British Schools Exploring Society, an experience that he admits probably changed his life. He feels very strongly in the benefits of expeditions to young people and hopes to help lead expeditions in the future, “One of the best things about BSES, is that in keeping with the ethos of Captain Scott, there is a purpose, a scientific aim, and with that comes an even greater sense of achievement.’’ In Madagascar James and his fellow team members helped begin a forest regeneration programme with the local communities, one of the main reasons he chose to study biology.

The British Schools Exploring Society was founded by a member of that Northern party that discovered Scott’s fate, and has been supporting and inspiring young people since the 1930s. “This expedition, for me, would be an opportunity to pay tribute to a man, that even in death, has profoundly influenced my life.” James has since embarked on a number of further expeditions, and will be joining an expedition to the Peruvian Amazon as a scientist this summer. James gives presentations and talks at schools to encourage young people to embark on expeditions and he hopes that this centenary event will inspire the next generation of modern-day explorers. “There are all sorts of ways to get involved, such as the Scott Centenary Scholarship Fund, which will be organising a Sledge Pull all around the country and supporting a fantastic cause at the same time.”

James is enthusiastic about the selection event taking place next week. “I’m most looking forward to meeting so many other people who are as excited about expeditions as me. It is a competition, but I think it’s important to put that aside, be yourself, and enjoy the experience!” He’s also hoping that the scientist in him will get a chance to visit Antarctica “Terra Nova was in fact primarily a science expedition, and most of the people currently on Antarctica are scientists working in very tough conditions to learn more about our planet and the way it works, I’d love the chance to meet a few of them and find out more.”

At HMS Raleigh the candidates will undergo a series of exercises, similar to those undertaken by the Royal Navy’s newest recruits, to test their mental and physical stamina. Two finalists will be chosen from the selection process to join the expedition, which plans to take the same route as the search party sent out to look for Captain Scott.  The group will start out in January 2012 and travel overland hauling supplies to reach the site, where relatives of the five doomed men will be flown in for a memorial service.

Antony Jinman, a member of the selection panel and the leader of the overland party said:

“The 10 Telegraph competition winners will undergo a number of selection and training courses so that we can offer one lucky person the opportunity to join us on the sledging expedition. We will also have two others in reserve but will offer all candidates the opportunity to get involved with the expedition at some level, whether in a logistical role or helping with our outreach work. What we are looking for in the candidates is not so much the fittest person but the person who is most passionate and has the determination to function well in a team and succeed in the expedition”.

Although HMS Raleigh is providing a venue for this selection process, the candidates will be assessed and the winners chosen by the International Scott Centenary Expedition.

Captain Scott was born in the parish of Stoke Damerel in Plymouth and joined the Royal Navy in 1881 at the age of 13.  As the Commanding Officer of SS Discovery he had already taken part in a successful mission to Antarctica to explore and collect scientific data, before setting out aboard Terra Nova in 1910 to reach the South Pole.

The International Scott Centenary Expedition is co-ordinating its centenary effort with the British Services Antarctic Expedition 2012, which will mount an expedition to Antarctica in late December 2011.  Made up of Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force personnel, the expedition intends to explore remote areas for scientific purposes and ascend previously unclimbed mountains ‘in the Spirit of Scott’. The expedition also aims to raise £10,000 for the Help for Heroes charity.  Further information is available on the website www.bsae2012.co.uk.

Information on The British Schools Exploring Society can be found at www.bses.org.uk, the International Scott Centenary Expedition can be found at www.isce2012.co.uk and the Scott Centenary Scholarships Fund at www.sss100.org.

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