UK Antarctic Heritage Trust recruits four to penguin counting post

UK Antarctic Heritage TrustSomething for the weekend: The charity UK Antarctic Heritage Trust has selected four women to run the world’s most remote post office and count penguins in Antarctica.

Clare Ballantyne, Mairi Hilton, Natalie Corbett and Lucy Bruzzone will manage the historic site Port Lockroy on Goudier Island, which will reopen for the first time since the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.

Each year, UK Antarctic Heritage hires four postmasters to live on the island, which is about the size of a football field, from November to March. The employees are collectively responsible for maintaining the historic site, catering to tourists and wildlife monitoring, which includes tallying penguins and environmental data collection.

Ballantyne, who has just completed a masters in earth science at Oxford University, was appointed as postmaster, and will deal by hand with approximately 80,000 cards, mailed each year from the site to more than 100 countries.

Corbett was recruited in order to run the gift shop at the site’s museum, and Bruzzone, a scientist who previously spent three months in the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard on an Arctic expedition, will be base leader, managing the team and coordinating all ship visits to the island. Hilton will be in charge of monitoring a colony of gentoo penguins, which the women will share the island with.

Hilton said to the BBC: “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.”

Corbett added: “Who wouldn’t want to spend five months working on an island filled with penguins in one of the most remote places on the planet?”

Camilla Nichol, chief executive of the trust, said: “Living there is quite hard work. You might be working 12-hour days. There’s not much time for rest and relaxation. We get people of all ages from all over the world. We are looking for people who are fit and resilient and really love meeting people and visitors.”

Here at Employee Benefits, we might just put a note on the calendar to see if we can nab a place next year! While we do not envy these posties for the cold weather, spending all day penguin-spotting could more than make up for it…