Nigel Estlick our Vice Chairman introduced Isobel Williams, a retired Consultant Chest Physician, who became fascinated by the Antarctic and its explorers while she was a student at St George's Hospital London. On one of the coldest days of the winter, she shared her fascination with the members of Salisbury branch. She told us that Ernest Shackleton was the second of 10 children born to Irish parents who moved to London. He joined the Merchant Navy aged 16 and after 11 years qualified as a ship’s master. In 1901 he joined Scott’s expedition to the South Pole aboard ‘Discovery’ but became ill and returned to England. He was not part of the expedition that was beaten to the Pole by the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen.
In 1914, despite the start of the First World War and encouraged by Winston Churchill, Shackleton made his third trip to the Antarctic with the ship 'Endurance', planning to cross Antarctica via the South Pole. Early in 1915 'Endurance' became trapped in the ice and ten months later sank. Shackleton's crew had already abandoned the ship to live on the floating ice and April 1916 they set off in three small boats, eventually reaching Elephant Island and South Georgia. He was knighted and is regarded as one of the most inspirational leaders of the 20th century, despite never actually achieving his dream of reaching the South Pole.Isobel kept her audience enthralled with her description of Shackleton’s strength of character and leadership which overcame the harshest weather and many difficulties suffered by him and his crew.
The talk prompted many questions and a lively discussion.David Stratton our President proposed a vote of thanks which drew enthusiastic applause and was followed by an enjoyable lunch at the Rose and Crown.
This story was submitted by the ESU Salisbury and Wiltshire branch. Please click here for information on this branch and its upcoming events.