Bound for Bird Island
A former South Crofty miner and local rugby player is set to take on a rather different challenge after being accepted on an expedition to Bird Island, just south of the Polar Front.
Simon Parrott, who will be well known to many Coastline Housing customers locally for his work as a surveyor with the social landlord, is swapping the relatively warm shores of Cornwall for shores covered with seals, penguins and a host of other wildlife.
He has been granted a sabbatical from his work with Coastline to take part in a construction project with a team of nine other people in one of the most remote places on Earth.
While there, Simon and team will be carrying out various modifications to the island’s research station and adjoining buildings, as well as extending the nearby jetty by around 7 metres, allowing bigger vessels to dock at the location.
This will all be carried out amidst a backdrop of one of the world’s richest wildlife sites. Bird Island is home to 50,000 breeding pairs of penguins, 65,000 pairs of fur seals and several hundred thousand other birds including a large Albatross population.
Simon says: “It’s a massive undertaking in a really challenging environment. Just preparing all the equipment for the journey out to the island is a huge bio-security exercise in itself. In the history of the island, not even 800 people have set foot on it so it’s an incredible privilege to get to live and work there for five months and witness the native wildlife.”
His journey to the island in November will take several weeks in itself, and involve passage on an RAF Globe Master plane to the Falkland Islands and then a trip on British Antarctic Survey ship the RRS Ernest Shackleton.
The island is only accessible by ship and only when the weather windows required are favourable, meaning that any trips home during Simon’s stay there are off the cards. He explains: “I’ll miss my first grandson being born while I’m away but we do get three phone calls home a week via the satellite phone so I’ll be able to keep in touch with family that way and we will have some limited internet access.”
Simon, who is a keen photographer in his spare time, will also be packing his camera to record elements of the mission for family and colleagues back home. His working life began at South Crofty when he was just 18 years old, and he spent four years working in different roles at the mine. He came to Coastline originally as a carpenter following a spell working in construction and, over several years, worked his way up the ranks to the position of Technical Project Surveyor.
Allister Young, Chief Executive of Coastline Housing, said: “We offer all our staff the opportunity to apply for sabbaticals if and when an exciting opportunity comes up in their personal lives, and this certainly counts as that. We’ve all been quite astounded to hear about Simon’s forthcoming adventure and we can’t wait to follow his progress during his time on Bird Island. We wish him every success.”
Bird Island lies off the north-west tip of South Georgia in the Southern Atlantic Ocean, approximately 1000km south-east of the Falkland Islands. The Research Station is an important centre for research into bird and seal biology and has been active since 1957.
Pic caption – Simon Parrott (far left) stands with some of the expedition team during training for his mission at the British Antarctic Survey headquarters in Cambridge.