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Research vessel should be named after polar researcher Dr Katharine Giles say Ipswich parents

PUBLISHED: 09:04 06 April 2016 | UPDATED: 09:04 06 April 2016

Exploring at Lake Tahoe during Easter 2012

Exploring at Lake Tahoe during Easter 2012


A heartfelt campaign has been launched to prevent a new vessel being named as ‘Boaty McBoatface’ and instead being named after gifted polar researcher Dr Katharine Giles, killed by a lorry in 2013.

Katharine in a sariKatharine in a sari

Robert and Albina Giles, from Ipswich, and their daughter Nikki, are campaigning to name the Natural Environment Research Council’s £200 million ship after their sister and daughter, Katharine.

Katharine was a climate change expert who was in the middle of “ground-breaking” research at University College London when she died. She was knocked from her bike by a tipper truck in central London three years ago.

A public appeal was launched this year to name the ship, which sets sail in 2019. Spoof name Boaty McBoatFace went viral after jokers took over the online poll in February

It has since stormed ahead with more than 110,000 votes.

The NERC boat which the public is being asked to suggest names for.The NERC boat which the public is being asked to suggest names for.

But sister Nikki, 36, said she will “keep fighting” to name the ship after her sister.

“I found the suggestions for names really funny”, she said.

“The Boaty McBoatface one made me laugh the most. I’m not against them at all and the publicity it has generated is great as it gives the campaign the awareness it needs.

“But for me and my family, Katharine is the perfect fit. She embodies all that the ship is about, and it would make a special memorial for her.”

Katharine in the snow, where she did most of her researchKatharine in the snow, where she did most of her research

Nikki travels to Ipswich from her Brighton home nearly every weekend, as her parents live in the town.

She recalls “many special memories” made in Suffolk with her sister, who was also a regular visitor.

She added: “I’m very fond of Ipswich and Suffolk is a wonderful county. I have a lot of lovely memories of Katharine there.”

The campaign to name the ship RRS Katharine Giles has had thousands of shares and responses in just a few days.

Katharine on a research missionKatharine on a research mission

And Nikki says her sister’s name and legacy is a “perfect fit” for such a grand ship.

“Katharine was deeply committed to making science more accessible to the general public and young people in particular, she said. “Naming the vessel after her would be a fitting tribute to an extraordinary woman, and a brilliant scientist.”

Katharine was just 35 when she died. Paying a personal tribute to her older sister, Nikki added: “Katharine was wonderful, kind and caring. She was full of life and she wasn’t just a geeky scientist.

“She enjoyed fashion and dancing, and was loved by everyone she knew. My parents were and remain so proud of her.

“It would be a brilliant legacy to her work if the ship went out with her name on it.”

Visit the website and search for Katharine to vote

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