Dear friends and friendly strangers,

It’s true! The dreads are being

pledged. What am I doing?!!!

This week, the RRS Ernest Shackleton is CROSSING THE LINE and the eight

uninitiated BAS employees on board are scared. Very scared. Especially me.

For those of you unfamiliar with the rituals of the sea, you have a thing or two

to learn. Crossing the equator for the first time is no trivial matter. If you

dare to slip into the other hemisphere without permission from Neptune himself,

you will pay for it. In hair. In my case, lots of hair. Hide where you may, Neptune’s

policemen will find you, will drag you kicking and screaming to Neptune’s court,

and will try and make you fit for his presence. You will have slops poured on

your head, you will be scrubbed and shaved, you will be taken to see the King

himself, and his wife. At his court, you will be tried and most likely found guilty

of several heinous crimes. If you plead not guilty, you will have more slops poured

on your head, and the crimes you are accused of will escalate. Then the verdict

and punishment will be announced. This is all I have managed to gleam from the

crew thus far. This time next week, I’ll be able to tell you the truth of what


So anyway, what started out as an innocent joke in the bar has escalated beyond

all proportion. ‘What would it take for you to cut off your dreads?’ turned to

‘would you cut your dreads for charity?’ to ‘how much?’ to ‘what charity?’. They

offered £300, I upped it to £500 and a swim in the sea (which I knew

would never happen) and they upped it to £1000, no swim but compulsory donations

from every member of the ship. Something had been started that couldn’t be stopped.


The cause we chose is for building an urgently needed intensive care ward for

a children’s hospital in Malawi. The dentist on board, Ben, grew up in Malawi

and his mum, Prof Molyneaux, works in the hospital. She is on site to hand to

deliver all donations directly into the project. As the crazy plan escalated,

Ben found himself offering to match whatever the ship raised. We have already

gone over £1000 from the ship alone. So now we’re opening it out to the

big wide world out there.

Go, on, it’s easy, for the click of a button you can see my dreads go. If we raise

over £1500, we’ll put the photos on the web. All you have to do is send

me an email or write a comment below stating the amount you pledge. After the

dreadful deed is done (sorry!), I’ll send you an email telling you how and where

to send your money to. Simple!

Go on. Pledge-a-dread! You know you want to!

3 thoughts on “Pledge-a-dread

  1. Frank has told me lots about you – and your dreads!! (Or lack of them!) Let me know how to pay – £30. Hope the ocean’s calm and Monte’s exciting.

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