For one Year 9 Portsmouth High School pupil, the letter home about Take our Daughters to work day, turned into an epic Antarctica adventure.
A century after Shackleton’s ‘Endurance’ sank, mountaineer Rebecca Stephens and her daughter, Anna, 13, followed in his wake on a luxury expedition cruise.
‘Anna and I have a lot to thank Sir Ernest Shackleton,’ said Ms Stephens. ‘It is exactly one hundred years since Shackleton turned around his epic Endurance expedition from a miserable failure – in that his ship sank and he and his men never even stepped foot on the Antarctic continent they intended to cross – into one of the most extraordinary tales of leadership and survival ever told. Against all the odds, Shackleton succeeded in getting every single man in his team home alive. It was because of Shackleton that I was invited on board the Silversea Explorer cruise to South Georgia and the Antarctic peninsula – to broadcast his story on the centenary anniversary of his expedition. And with a spare berth in my cabin, Anna was my obvious choice of companion. It was a rare privilege for us to sail to this remote southern corner of the world, to learn of its history and witness its ice-clad beauty and abundant wildlife.’
From whales off the stern of the ship to colonies of King Penguins, Anna and her mother enjoyed an 18 day cruise covering a triangular route of 3,500 nautical miles from Ushuaia in Argentina to the Falkland Islands and South Georgia, south to the Antarctic Peninsula and north again across the Drake Passage to Ushuaia.
This week, Anna gave a whole school assembly about her trip.
‘In memory of Shackleton’s expedition I went on an epic voyage which could not be replaced with any other experience,’ said Anna. ‘When I did the school assembly I wanted my friends and other pupils to experience the excitement of my trip. The most exciting memory was witnessing six hump-back whales approach and come under the boat and move with such grace and ease. Seeing them in their natural habitat was an experience never to be forgotten.’
The Independent covered the adventure here on 15 December.
The Royal Geographical Society is showing Enduring Eye, an exhibition exploring the legacy of Shackleton and photographer Frank Hurley, until 28 February (020 7591 3000; rgs.org)
The Shackleton Foundation provides funding and support to aspiring leaders and social entrepreneurs (shackletonfoundation.org).
Rebecca Stephens delivers lectures and workshops on lessons learned from Shackleton’s leadership style (rebeccastephens.com)