Dr Kim Crosbie, IAATO Executive Director, and IAATO Member Jérôme Poncet of Golden Fleece Expeditions who is a resident of the Falkland Islands, have been awarded the Queen’s Polar Medal. The announcement was made last week in The London Gazette.
Kim, who received the Medal for her outstanding contributions to the knowledge of Polar visitor management, said, “This is a huge honor. I feel extraordinarily lucky to have worked extensively in one of the most captivating, harsh but beautiful places on our planet with many inspiring and committed people. The Polar Regions are so important and unique in global terms that I strongly believe that all who have the privilege to experience these great wildernesses, whether as a visitor or for work, have a responsibility to look after them for future generations.”
Kim’s Polar career began in 1991 when she joined the Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge, as a research student. She initially worked in the Canadian Arctic before embarking on a PhD that focused on the ecological monitoring and management of visitor sites in the Antarctic. This required three austral summer seasons in primitive conditions at a temporary field camp on Cuverville Island in the Antarctic Peninsula surrounded by some 4,500 breeding pairs of gentoo penguins. Following completion of her PhD, Kim remained in the field of visitor management leading expeditions to both Poles primarily on board expedition cruise vessels, a role that enabled a diverse range of people to sustainably experience and work in these unique environments. In 2005, she joined IAATO as Environmental Manager and subsequently Operations Director before being appointed Executive Director in 2013. Throughout she has continued to publish scientific papers, books and articles with a diverse range of scientists and non-governmental representatives. Kim’s varied experience in environmental management, from research to practical application and policy development, has led to a greater understanding and cohesion across the Antarctic community, resulting in improved management techniques that help support visitation to these areas in a safe, environmentally responsible way.
Mr Jérôme Poncet was awarded the Polar Medal for his pioneering efforts in supplying logistics in support of Polar science and wildlife documentaries for over 40 years. His intimate knowledge of these relatively unexplored coastlines and his understanding of the extreme Antarctic environment has enabled the discovery of many penguin and other breeding bird colonies and facilitated a greater understanding of animal behavior and ecology. Never one to turn down a challenge, Jérôme’s work has not only progressed science but has also allowed millions of viewers around the world to enjoy and learn about the unique Antarctic environment by allowing film-makers to capture ground breaking footage. Examples include the BBC’s Life in the Freezer, Planet Earth and Frozen Planet.
Jérôme has several notable firsts for a small yacht in the Polar Regions. These include sailing to Spitsbergen in 1969 and subsequently the Antarctic Peninsula and below the Antarctic Circle in 1973. In 1978 and 1979 he and his wife, Sally, wintered in Marguerite Bay, Antarctic Peninsula, onboard their yacht, Damien II, which continued to be their home in the Southern Ocean for several years as their family grew with the arrival of three sons. Throughout Jérôme has authored and co-authored many books and science articles sharing his practical knowledge and experience of these little known places.
HM The Queen awards the Polar Medal to those who have personally made conspicuous contributions to the knowledge of the Polar Regions and/or have provided outstanding service in support of gaining such knowledge.