South Pole success for Ambassador Aston
Felicity Aston returned to a rapturous reception at the Royal Commonwealth Society in London last week after leading eight women from the Commonwealth countries of Cyprus, Ghana, India, Singapore, Brunei, New Zealand, Jamaica and the United Kingdom through blizzards, crevasses and temperatures below -30C as they women-hauled their sledges over 900 kilometres across Antarctica to the geographic South Pole.
Eight women of six faiths, seven languages and Felicity arrived at the South Pole on New Year's Eve to mark the 60th anniversary of the Commonwealth.
Despite nine-hour delays because of snow (of all reasons) at Madrid airport, she and her companions succeeded in reaching the Society in Northumberland Avenue by 8.00pm and metaphorically kicking the snow off their boots and wowing the audience gathered to welcome them back.
Sponsored by the Russian computer security company Kaspersky,the exhibition was conceived by Felicity to show what women can acheive and how women of different faiths, countries, experience and background can work together to reach a common goal.
The team members from Brunei, Cyprus, Ghana and Jamaica will be the first person from their nation to ski to the South Pole. Those from India, Singapore and New Zealand will be the first women from their country to ski. Some of the team had never seen snow.
Fantastic as these achievements will be, the expedition is about much more than national and global records. The team members will return to their home countries as role models to inspire others, particularly women, to reach beyond the expectation of others and follow their own path.
Representing a Commonwealth of 52 nations and two billion people around the globe, the expedition team is a diverse group of real women selected from over 800 applicants. Before joining the expedition many of the team members had never been in sub-zero temperatures, put on a pair of skis or spent the night in a tent - a fact which makes the challenge they are undertaking even more remarkable.
The trustees of the British Antarctic Monument Trust are delighted by Felicity's success and proud that she represents the charity as an ambassador.