Mathematician Barbara Forrai will tell the story of an expedition to the Russian archipelago of Franz Josef Land, made with experts on history, geology, ecology, flora and fauna. Landings at remote places were made by Zodiac (a stout rubber raft with an outboard motor). The trip started at Murmansk, from where they sailed north. Franz Josef Land is the most northerly point in Eurasia, which was explored in depth before the group sailed further north into the pack-ice, reaching a point some 450 miles from the North Pole. There were further landings on the return journey. The talk will be accompanied by photos of stunning scenery, polar bears and historical sites associated with Nansen’s epic journey.
After retiring from a successful career as a mathematician, Barbara Forrai decided to study Russian at the University of Westminster for which she developed a strong passion.
Besides her passion for Russia, Barbara always had a strong interest in helping others and supporting charities. Having lost her husband to heart disease very early, she started working for the British Heart Foundation in 1988, where she ran a very successful branch in Croydon raising significant sums of money.
She dedicated her spare time to working for various charities, such as ‘ChildAid’, an organisation which sends volunteers to Russia and Eastern European countries to help improve the lives of disabled children, orphans and vulnerable families.
In 2002, Barbara worked for ‘Helping Hands’ in Chita, an Eastern Siberian city, where she supported and helped children and their families living in extremely harsh conditions. She also donated funds to the charity thanks to illustrated travel lectures she delivered about her expedition trips across the Russian Arctic.
Last year, Barbara received the British Empire Medal recognizing her meritorious civil services to charities in the UK and Russia.
Speaking about the award and her time at the University of Westminster, Barbara said: “I am naturally delighted to receive the award in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List. I have always been grateful to the University of Westminster for its flexible arrangements which allowed me to study at my own pace without interfering with my other activities. Of course the employment I found with a degree in Russian funded my travels and thus my chosen charity.”
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