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News Story - Midwinter's Day in Antarctica

Date: 20 Jun 2014

Staff at the British Antarctic Survey are celebrating Midwinter’s Day in Antarctica. In a tradition which began in the days of Captain Scott the event marks the shortest, and darkest, day of the year. This year’s science and support teams will brave the elements for a long distance run (weather permitting) followed by a festive meal and exchange of gifts that the team members have made for one another. A special highlight is the annual Midwinter broadcast on the BBC’s World Service which includes messages from loved ones.

Recording the Midwinter message at BAS Cambridge
Recording the Midwinter message at BAS Cambridge
This year’s broadcast on the World Service will be aired at 21.30 (GMT) on Saturday 21st June and last for half an hour. It contains greetings from families, work colleagues and several celebrities.

The Prime Minister, David Cameron, and the Commissioner for the British Antarctic Territory, Dr Peter Hayes, have sent messages of support.

In her own message to staff BAS Director, Jane Francis, said:

“I’d like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to every one of you for all your hard work down south. You are all vital to the science that helps understand that amazing continent. You are part of an exceptional team of scientists and logistics people that make work in Antarctica a great adventure – and a safe one too.”

BAS has four stations which it operates over the winter months; Bird Island, Kind Edward Point, Rothera and Halley VI. There are currently 44 staff based at these stations. They include scientists, electricians, plumbers, chefs and doctors.   

The Sun setting on Halley VI Research Station at the beginning of winter
The Sun setting on Halley VI Research Station at the beginning of winter
John Eager, station commander at BAS’ remotest station, Halley VI, said:

“Midwinter’s Day marks the start of the countdown to when we see the Sun again. Over winter there are 105 days of darkness here at Halley so it is good to know we are heading towards lighter days again. We really appreciate the many messages of goodwill we get from home at this time of year.

During the day we will take some time to remember those Antarctic pioneers who made our time here possible, celebrate our achievements so far and toast the friends, families, and loved ones waiting for us at home.”

If you wish to tweet greetings to those working in Antarctica then please use #BASmidwinter.