Polar medal for former Kirkcaldy woman
A KIRKCALDY woman has received one of the highest honours for polar research, after swapping the dentist chair in Scotland for a more remote life - in Antarctica.
Penny Granger, who attended Fair Isle Primary and Kirkcaldy High Schools, was studying for her dentistry degree when she first heard of the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) - the project that finally took her to some of the coldest climes on earth.
Now, 12 years on, she has received the Polar Medal at Buckingham Palace for her impact and hard work in Antarctica.
Penny was presented with the medal by Princess Anne in front of 300 friends and family.
She told The Press: "I was quite delighted and felt most honoured. The award also felt as if was for my family and partner Simon – without their support this would be a very challenging job indeed."
Penny began her journey when she applied for the dentist's position with BAS - one of the world's leading environmental research centres.
She began her first day in June 2001, and since then the job taken her to some of the remotest, and coldest, places in the world. She has had to get used to 24-hour-a-day sunlight, as well as treating patients on a ship.
Penny continued. "I have always loved the challenge of practicing dentistry in interesting places and having the opportunity to work in the harsh extremes of Antarctica certainly felt as if it would prove to be both rewarding and challenging - and it has been."
As well as long periods on a ship based in the Antarctic, where Penny visits bases like Rothera and King Edward Point, screens patients and helps train remote doctors in emergency dental problems, there is also an emphasis on the aims of the project as a whole.
She added: "Being part of a large scientific organisation is extremely stimulating and being surrounded by enthusiastic science and support staff is really brilliant.
''When hearing directly from the scientists the effects of global warming in the Antarctic and knowing that I'm part of the science support makes me feel, in some small way, part of the solution."
Working in a remote environment, however, means there is no typical day for Penny, with the first challenge 'catching patients'.
"I call for patients on a radio, who then have to get to the ship by skidoo and spend what seems like an age undressing from their Antarctic warm weather gear before climbing into the chair.
''It's very like a normal dentists - it's just that this surgery moves and rolls occasionally."
However, it's not all about hard work for Penny, who also spends time watching the famous Emperor penguins and skiing into the wildlife.
"It is," she adds, "a very special place and a very special job."
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Weather for Kirkcaldy
Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 20 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 8 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 17 mph
Wind direction: South west