Felicity Aston's Story
In 2008, Felicity travelled to the Commonwealth countries of Cyprus, Ghana, India, Singapore, Brunei Darussalam, New Zealand and Jamaica.
The aim of the Fellowship was to recruit potential team members for the Commonwealth Women's Antarctic Expedition by using national media in each country to encourage women to apply; particularly those who may not have had any previous expedition experience but still felt a desire for adventure; and to arrange face-to-face interviews with potential candidates.
Felicity spent about a week in each country, publicising the expedition through pre-arranged media appointments and received more than 800 applications to join the expedition from women in all eight targeted countries, as well as considerable media coverage and support for the project.
As a result, in December 2009 Felicity arrived at the South Pole alongside six women from six different Commonwealth nations having skied more than 900km from the coast of Antarctica in the previous 38 days. The team claimed several world records between them, including the first person from Brunei and from Cyprus to ski to the South Pole; the first women from New Zealand, India and Singapore to ski to the South Pole; and it remains the largest and most international team of women ever to have completed the journey.
The expedition of such a multi-cultural, multi-faith team of novices continues to inspire countless people around the world. Felicity wrote a book about the experience which was a finalist in the Banff Mountain Festival Book Competition and produced a documentary film which has been broadcast in several countries around the world.
The experience of selecting, training and leading such a challenging team, as well as the experience provided by the journey itself, gave Felicity the confidence, knowledge and credibility to create ever-more demanding expedition projects in the years that followed.
In 2012 Felicity became the first woman in the world to ski across Antarctica alone after making a 1084-mile, 59-day traverse of the continent. In 2015 she was appointed as an MBE for services to Polar Exploration in the New Year’s Honours List and became one of very few women to be awarded the Queen’s Polar Medal.