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Book Illustrated by Worcester Expert Receives Acclaim from Britain's Greatest Explorer

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A book in which a University of Worcester design lecturer has helped to bring to life a top-secret World War II Antarctic expedition has received wide acclaim.

Britain’s greatest living explorer, Sir Ranulph Fiennes, has described it as ‘a truly remarkable story’, while the Scott Polar Research Institute has called it ‘a valuable addition to our understanding of Britain’s involvement in the Antarctic’. 

Andy Stevenson, Senior Lecturer in Graphic Design and Multimedia, researched, planned and created a series of historical maps to illustrate Operation Tabarin: Britain’s Secret Wartime Expedition to Antarctica, 1944-46 by acclaimed polar historian Stephen Haddelsey.

Earlier this month, the two men attended a House of Commons reception to mark the 70th anniversary of the expedition, which strengthened British territorial claims in the Antarctic.

Andy explains: "The House of Commons event and the following book launch made for an amazing day in which I was able to talk to many of the incredible individuals associated with recent Antarctic history whom I'd previously only read about or seen in films.

“I'm really pleased for Stephen; he's worked so hard to gain the level of new detail he has in this title and he well deserves all the attention this book is now getting. I'd also like to pass on my thanks to Professor Antonia Payne for the kind support given in helping me complete this bespoke new mapping project."

The reception was also attended by the Rt Hon David Willetts MP; Stephen's co-author, Polar Medal holder Alan Carroll; Ken Blaiklock OBE and Lieutenant-Commander Richard Brooke who, with Sir Vivian Fuchs and Sir Edmund Hillary, played vital roles in the expedition that completed the first crossing of Antarctica in 1957-58.

After the reception, Mr Haddelsey’s book was officially launched at an event held in a central London bookstore.

Mr Haddelsey says: “I was absolutely delighted that the event at the House of Commons and the book launch were so well attended. Operation Tabarin, marked the beginning of Britain’s continuous presence on the Antarctic continent and the initiation of a hugely important programme of science and exploration now managed by the British Antarctic Survey.

“The men who took part should be honoured as pioneers and I very much hope that the anniversary celebrations and the launch of the book will help to ensure that their courage and determination in the face of appalling odds will be properly recognised.

“I’ve no doubt that Andy’s excellent maps will help a wider audience to understand the operation and I hope to work with him again on future projects.”

Mr Haddelsey, who is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, is currently working on a number of other Antarctic projects, including the development of plans to excavate and preserve the forward base of the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic expedition of 1956-58, a time capsule that was abandoned, fully equipped and furnished, early in 1958.

Andy is now looking into the possibility of bringing-in some of his new-found polar links for a potential future student children's book design reference book project. Many of the polar organisations are keen to help raise awareness of British Scientific achievements in the Antarctic - especially so with younger generations. Such a project could include both references to the historical perspective as well as our key roles in the monitoring of climate change.