New book, familiar story

Lost, the diaries of Thomas Orde Lees, have been edited and compiled by John Thomson, author of Elephant Island & Beyond.

This brand-new edition will have a special appeal for members of the James Caird Society, not purely because of its superb content! Members are being offered a £5 discount with proof of membership and the publishers have also pledged a further £5 per copy will be donated to the JCS funds for every copy sold. A ‘win win’ situation with the added benefit of a fascinating read.

More information and orders from The Erskine Press or directly from Crispin de Boos at

James Caird receiving visitors again

After over a year in pandemic-driven lock down, the James Caird is once more ‘back in business’. Members of the public can arrange to visit the world’s most famous lifeboat on Fridays at 11.30am.  Please wear a mask and bring evidence of a recent negative Lateral Flow Test. All visits must be pre-booked via

School tours are available on Tuesday and Thursday mornings in term time and can be booked by contacting   Tours run from 11.15 to 12.15

Full details of the boat’s location can be found here.

Lucky for some!

Friday 13 August 2021 turned out to be an auspicious day for some lucky members of the James Caird Society and their guests. Those who responded in time were able to enjoy a splendid Grand Summer Barbecue aboard HQS Wellington, voted by some of the assembled company as ‘one of the best settings in London’. Dare we say ‘the best setting?’

Drinks on the top deck, with its stunning views of the Thames and the London skyline, were followed by a sumptuous feast of barbecued sausages and kebabs accompanied by a selection of salads; with delicious desserts to follow!  And all laid on by the magnificent catering crew, Seahorse Hospitality.

The event was attended by more than 60 people and proved so popular that there has been talk of making it an annual event… Watch this space.

Also watch the website for further details of the AGM, planned for Friday 5 November, with dinner in the Great Hall at Dulwich College to follow.

Star of the silver screen!

Sir Ernest Shackleton, as is widely known, was educated at Dulwich College; so it is fitting that the great explorer is being used by the College in an educational package for the students of today. Hal Howe, also a former pupil of Dulwich College, was commissioned to produce a short film telling the story of Shackleton and the James Caird. This is being offered to local primary schools, along with a handbook for teachers and a pupil workbook, while school visits are on pause. The study of Shackleton and his heroic feats is part of the KS2 curriculum and the James Caird Society welcomes and supports this educational initiative which brings Sir Ernest’s qualities of leadership to life in such an inspirational way.

The film, which lasts about 12 minutes, can be viewed here.


Next JCS Dinner

As we feared, the May dinner has now been ‘postponed’. We are hoping to arrange an alternative event later in the summer but in the meantime can confirm that the next event at Dulwich College will be the 2021 AGM, followed by a much delayed dinner and talk. This will take place on Friday 5 November, fingers crossed. The well-known Polar photographer David Baillie, known for his willingness to go to places no  other cameraman is prepared to go, has also indicated his willingness to talk at this event.

Please save the date, whilst continuing to keep all fingers firmly crossed. Full details will be sent to members as soon as possible and will also of course appear in our Newsletter in the summer and be posted here on the website.

The Last Great First …

… with doctors on skis

October will see another challenging expedition which aims to emulate the spirit of Shackleton: Gareth Andrews and Richard Stephenson, both medical practitioners, will attempt to become the first team in history to ski across the continent of Antarctica, including its two permanent ice shelves, unsupported.

Their success over this 2600 km, 110-day expedition will be testament to tenacity, determination and meticulous planning. Day on day, the trek will further our knowledge of rarely traversed sections of Antarctica, how humans perform in extreme conditions and our continuing impact on this most pristine of environments.

The Last Great First will bring the future into focus for a new generation, underlining the importance, majesty and fragility of Antarctica and its pivotal role in our survival on this planet. This trek will highlight the urgent need for the protection of these vital systems through a deeper understanding of and investment in Antarctic science. More information can be found on their website.

Last Great First

The James Caird Society wishes the team every success in this exciting venture.


Keeping up with the Caird!

Kent Scouts ReQuest21 project has already earned a mention or two in these pages – but now they are really pushing the boat out!

With two high profile rowing machines positioned either side of what is perhaps the most famous boat in the world, Request21 will be undertaking a Big Sponsored 24-hour James Caird Row-A-Thon event commemorating that 800-mile boat journey 105 years ago.  The event will take place in the James Caird Hall in Dulwich College on 14/15 April 2021 and simultaneously around the globe as rowers aim to clock up 1500km (equivalent to 800 nautical miles).

Professional and amateur rowers from anywhere in the world are invited to join the team and raise some sponsorship.

For full details, please look at the ReQuest21 website.

May Dinner 2021

Thanks to the on-going Covid situation, a question mark remains over this event, earmarked for 21 May. We would like to delay a final decision for as long as possible and are liaising closely with Dulwich College to ensure that, if we can go ahead, the event will comply with all Covid restrictions and regulations. This will undoubtedly mean that numbers will be restricted.

In order to anticipate demand, we would ask all JCS members to inform Andy Kinniburgh, Membership Secretary, () what your intentions might be:

  • very likely to attend
  • will possibly attend
  • definitely will not attend

We are delighted that Skip Novak has agreed to talk at the dinner, a talk that we plan to stream for absent members or if the event becomes a ‘Virtual Dinner’.

For full details, please email

To join the Society, please click here.

Shackleton’s Critic

Shackleton's criticAs the heroic age of exploration draws to a close, a new book tells the story of one of the heroes involved – one who is little known and scarcely recognised today.

Eric Marshall, under the leadership of Ernest Shackleton, staggered to within 97 miles of the South Pole on the 1907 – 1909 Nimrod Expedition.  When they ultimately headed for home, mission unaccomplished, it was Marshall’s heroics that prevented the journey from becoming a death march. He subsequently survived a harrowing expedition in Dutch New Guinea but fame and fortune eluded him. Increasingly embittered, he turned his resentment towards family, friends and above all Shackleton, becoming in time Sir Ernest’s fiercest critic.

This fascinating story of Marshall’s life, by Angie Butler and Beau Riffenburgh, brings a new insight into the trials these heroic Edwardians endured, and which affected them for ever.

Marshall’s nonagenarian daughter, Dawn Beal, has read the book: ‘I feel so privileged to be the first recipient. It’s a beautiful book. It brings me good and bad memories of my father’.

Shackleton’s Critic can be bought here.

Three celebrations of the Quest anniversary

As expected, the year has begun with a burst of activity as preparations gather pace to mark the centenary of Shackleton’s death aboard Quest in South Georgia on 5 January 1922.

Most recent news comes from JCS member Paul Hart, Expedition Leader of Antarctic Quest 21. This expedition is one of scientific research and will follow untrodden areas of the Antarctic, emulating the spirit of the original Quest expedition. Continuing the science and exploration programme, the team will travel along   the spine of the Antarctic Peninsula and will cross the Forbidden Plateau from Portal Point to Foyn Point. Here they will gather information on how the thickness of the ice covering the rock is changing. Further work will contribute to a scientific understanding of what is happening on the Peninsula in terms of climate change, meteorology, geology and glaciology – all things that have a direct impact on the future of our planet. Full details of the expedition can be found on their website

Kent Scouts – forthcoming project ReQuest21. After the success of last year’s Quest for the Silver Suitcase, Kent Scouts are repeating the hunt: for a once-off minimum donation of £5, participants will receive challenging cryptic clues daily throughout February 2021, taking them on a tour from the UK, throughout Europe, Australasia, Africa, America and Asia. The overall winner will receive a cash prize of 20% of takings. Find out more on the ReQuest21 website

And finally (for the time being) there’s an invitation to take part in Antarctica Now, a seven-day online festival featuring world-leading experts on all things Antarctica: wildlife; conservation, exploration, climate change and politics. It will run from 25 – 31 January 2021 and you can find out how to participate on the Shackletonlondon website.