Teacher set for Antarctic challenge

PUBLISHED: 11:38 01 November 2007 | UPDATED: 15:17 12 May 2010

Teacher Ian Richardson

Teacher Ian Richardson

A TEACHER will be exchanging a warm classroom for some rather icier surroundings on Saturday. The Crow has been following the progress of Ian Richardson, one of four teachers from across the country to be taking part in an Antarctic expedition to mark the

A TEACHER will be exchanging a warm classroom for some rather icier surroundings on Saturday.

The Crow has been following the progress of Ian Richardson, one of four teachers from across the country to be taking part in an Antarctic expedition to mark the 50th anniversary of Sir Vivian Fuchs' successful Trans Antarctic Expedition.

Mr Richardson, from Royston, said: "We have taken part in experiments and been to Norway so I'm as prepared as I think I can be."

The four science and geography teachers have been preparing their bodies for the most exacting experience of their lives, and after months of training are finally heading for the cold climes of the most southerly continent.

Mr Richardson, who is head of biology at Freman College in Buntingford, said: "This is a chance of a life time.

"It's always been a fantasy place that I wanted to visit, but never thought I would see it for myself."

The teachers leave England on Saturday, but it will be another week before they reach the freezing temperatures of the Antarctic.

Once there, they will be pitching their tents for some chilly nights.

And Mr Richardson said: "Although this will be an amazing trip, it isn't a tourist activity.

"We will hopefully be out there for four to five weeks - it all depends on the weather.

"But we will be camping the whole time - it will be quite adventurous."

All the teachers, who have got to know one another well, will be tackling projects of their own as they work in and around the Ellsworth Mountains.

Mr Richardson will be studying a unique collection of microscopic organisms known as Tardigrades.

The creatures enter a state of suspended ­animation in which they can endure the most punishing temperatures with apparent ease.

Mr Richardson and his fellow explorers will be in regular contact with their schools, ­sending photos, and if possible, setting up a web link.

"The schoolchildren are very excited and have been very keen," said Mr Richardson.

"They have helped with fund-raising and have shown lots of enthusiasm.

"The trip is very relevant at this time, with all the global changes happening."

Last Wednesday the group was invited to the House of Commons by MP Tom Levette and met Schools Minister Jim Knight.

A reception was then held at the Royal Geographic Society in London as a final send-off for the explorers.

Today (Thursday) Mr Richardson and the team are travelling down to Portsmouth for final fitness tests, which will be checked again when they return home.

Thanks to support from schools, pupils, and friends and family, Mr Richardson was able to reach his fund raising target of £10,000 - a contribution to the Fuchs' Foundation and to the cost of his own part of the expedition.

He said: "I am achieving an ambition to be able to go to the Antarctic.

"I hope to be able to give lots of talks when I return and share the experience with others.

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