Four women to run post office and count penguins in Antarctica


Text by BBC


Photos by UK Antarctic Trust via PA Media





(L-R) Lucy Bruzzone, Clare Ballantyne, Natalie Corbett and Mairi Hilton will spend five months on Goudier Island


Four women have been selected to run the world’s most remote post office and count penguins in Antarctica.


Clare Ballantyne, Mairi Hilton, Natalie Corbett and Lucy Bruzzone beat a record number of applicants to become the team responsible for managing historic site Port Lockroy, on Goudier Island.


The team will travel 9,000 miles from the UK to reopen the bay for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic.


They will spend five months without running water or a flushing toilet.




About 80,000 cards are mailed each year from the site to more than 100 countries

Newlywed Ms Corbett, in charge of running the gift shop at the site’s museum, will leave behind her husband for the trip, which she dubbed a “solo honeymoon”.


The 31-year-old from Hampshire said she could not resist the opportunity to work on the island.


“Who wouldn’t want to spend five months working on an island filled with penguins in one of the most remote places on the planet?” she said.


As well as dealing with sub-zero temperatures and almost constant daylight, the women will share the island with a colony of gentoo penguins, which Ms Hilton will be in charge of monitoring.


“This will be my first time in Antarctica and I’m very excited to set eyes on the white continent. I have no idea what to expect when we get there – how cold it will be, will we have to dig our way through the snow to the post office?” Ms Hilton, from Bo’ness, near Falkirk in Scotland, said.


“I’m a conservation biologist, so personally I can’t wait to see the penguins and other wildlife like seabirds and whales.”


The four women were among 6,000 people who expressed an interest in the roles, which were advertised by the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust (UKAHT) charity.


The women will be joined for 10 weeks by Vicky Inglis, general assistant and wildlife monitor on Port Lockroy


Newly appointed postmaster Ms Ballantyne, from Lincolnshire, has just completed a masters in earth science at Oxford University.


The 23-year-old will deal by hand with approximately 80,000 cards, which are mailed each year from the site to more than 100 countries.


Ms Bruzzone will be base leader, managing the team and coordinating all ship visits to the island.


The scientist, who has already spent three months in the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard on an Arctic expedition, described the opportunity as a “lifelong dream”.


The women will be joined for the first 10 weeks by 42-year-old Vicky Inglis, from Aberdeenshire, who was a UKAHT general assistant in the 2019/20 season.