Exactly 100 years after Sir Ernest Shackleton’s last expedition to Antarctica, Kent Scouts are returning, with help from the Freemasons in Kent.

Kent Scouts is one of the largest Scout counties in the UK, preparing 17,000 young people with Skills for Life supported by 6,000 adults.

The ReQuest2021 expedition will see ten Scouts sail this winter on the Bark Europa Tall Ship from South America to Port Lockroy.  There they will conduct personal research projects and present their findings on their return.  Scouts back in Kent will join in the fun and adventure using “Antarctica in an Ice Box” activity packs.

The Freemasons of Kent have donated £5,000 in sponsorship.  Alan Noake, Kent Scouts project leader, said, The team are immensely grateful to Kent Freemasons, who are now our biggest sponsor, for helping the project to inspire all Scouts to learn some important lessons of peace, environment and heritage from Antarctica.”

Tony Harvey from the Freemasons said, “This is another example of collaboration between our two great organisations, one which will have a lasting impact on the lives of so many young people.

In fact, this collaboration is yet another echo of the original expedition.  Sir Ernest Shackleton was a Freemason, a member of Navy Lodge No. 2612, which meets in London.  Two of his crew, James Marr and Norman Mooney, were Scouts.  They were selected from 1,700 applicants and supported by Robert Baden-Powell, Scouting’s founder.

In April this year a sponsored rowing event took place at Dulwich College. With two high profile rowing machines either side of Shackleton’s famous James Caird lifeboat, and lots of other rowers participating simultaneously on rowing machines remotely, the starting flag was waved.

The aim was to clock up 1,500 kilometres (the equivalent of 800 nautical miles or 933 miles!) – the amazing distance covered by Sir Ernest Shackleton and five of his men on the Endurance expedition’s incredible boat journey.  Shackleton took 17 days to row from Elephant Island to the island of South Georgia, and the ReQuest team set themselves the same target for their event.

On 17th September, 100 years to the day since Shackleton raised a Union Flag donated by King George V and sailed from London, the ReQuest2021 team will raise a Union Flag that once flew over Baden-Powell’s Brownsea Island campsite and then sail under Tower Bridge.  The team will later fly the Brownsea flag at Port Lockroy Antarctic base.