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

Keeping Scott’s Promise

A few months ago I sat writing an essay entitled ‘Why Captain Scott is important to me‘. I’m glad I did, since then I’ve been lucky enough to become involved with the International Scott Centenary Expedition. Here’s a few things that have happened since.

I visited HMS Raleigh and was put through my paces with the Navy, then had some pictures taken for some local papers, and met some incredibly supportive people. I even got to chat to the wonderful John Govier (and meet a Champion weightlifter) live on BBC Radio Devon.

It’s been fantastic, it never ceases to amaze me how a century on Scott’s Legacy is still so strong. Whether it’s through the British Schools Exploring Society, the Polar Fun Days or the Scott Sledge Pull, what a wonderful way to support Scott’s ethos of science and education.

I think it’s often news that you weren’t expecting that can be most exciting, so I thought I would share an email that landed in my inbox a few days ago from a student at my old school.


Dear Mr Borrell,

   I recently came across the Essex County Standard article about your upcoming expedition to Antarctica and immediately took an interest.

   This year at the Colchester Royal Grammar School, we have established a group known as the School Archivist Society which deals with the documentation of the school’s history. We have currently covered a lot of ground – our most remarkable success, the discovery that Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay had attended the school before going on to lead the Dunkirk Evacuations of WWII. As I am a current student of CRGS and you a former student here, I thought you may be interested in some of our latest activities surrounding Scott’s trip to the South Pole.

   We have done a lot of fundraising for the British Antarctic Heritage Trust to aid the conservation of Scott’s Hut. We hope that our £800 will have helped to save the breathtaking and truly inspiring sight which we hope you are about to see.

   This may also interest you: our school did in fact raise money all those 101 years ago for a dog to accompany Scott and his team on their groundbreaking mission. Though he promised us its skull should the dog die, he never returned the dog or the skull. If you happen to come across it, we’d be grateful to get it back!

   At any rate, we expect that on your trip, gruelling as it may be, you will surely be moved by the glory and the grief with which these men died for their country. We’d love to hear back from you afterwards; perhaps you could come back to talk to us at some point to share what you have been through?

  In any case, we are willing you to be given a place on the expeditionary team and wish you well when you go!

Best of luck,


Ben Taylor, Year 11

School Archivist Society, CRGS


Thank you to Ben for making my day. If anyone has any useful information about Scott’s dogs, or other stories about the Terra Nova Expedition, do get in touch!

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