by Richard Buckley, Editor, Business Eye

Seven top local science students, and their schools, have been recognised for their excellence through the Hans Sloane Medal and the Sloane McClay Award, awards set up in memory of two of Northern Ireland’s most famous and forward thinking scientists.   The Hans Sloane Memorial Fund Trust, in partnership with National Museums NI, was established in 1960 to commemorate the life and work of the celebrated Killyleagh physician, scientist and collector.


The Trustees award the Hans Sloane medal to the student obtaining the highest combined marks in biology, chemistry and physics each year at ‘A’ Level, along with their school, to recognise excellence in teaching.


The winner of the Hans Sloane Medal was Fionán McBride, a former pupil of Christian Brothers’ Grammar School, Omagh, who was also presented with a certificate and a cheque for £500. He is now studying Medicine at Queen’s University, Belfast. Christian Brothers’ Grammar Senior Teacher Mr McBride also received a Hans Sloane medal on behalf of the school from Professor Su Taylor, Dean of Research, School of Natural and Built Environment, Queens University Belfast.


Second place certificate and a cheque for £300 was presented to Erin Fitzsimons-West from Assumption Grammar, Ballynahinch. Joint third place certificates and cheques for £150 each were presented to Luke Hall from Sullivan Upper, Holywood and Tara McConville from Mount Lourdes Grammar, Enniskillen.


The Hans Sloane Memorial Fund Trust, and National Museums NI, are now in the second year of a partnership with Almac Group, the Craigavon based contract development and manufacturing organisation which introduced a new award to recognise Northern Ireland’s brightest students at GCSE level. The Sloane McClay Award commemorates the life and work of not only Sir Hans Sloane, but also Sir Allen McClay, the visionary entrepreneur and businessman who founded the Almac Group in 1968.


The Sloane McClay awards were presented to Samantha Collister from Antrim Grammar School and principal Mrs Jenny Lendrum by Professor Tim Harrison, VP Drug Discovery, Almac Discovery. Samantha achieved the highest combined marks in biology, chemistry, physics and maths at GCSE level. Samantha, who is now studying for her ‘A’ Levels in Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Maths also received a cheque for £250 and has been offered a work placement at Almac during her ‘AS’ Level year.


Joint second place was presented to Tom Myles from Regent House School, Newtownards and Matthew Barr from Coleraine Grammar School, who both receive a certificate and a cheque for £150.


Dr Sally Montgomery, a Hans Sloane Trustee said: “It never ceases to amaze us how brilliant our young students are.  Their achievements across science and maths is inspiring!  We wish them every success in the future and hope they can inspire more students to understand the importance of Science and Maths.”


Professor Harrison added: “Almac’s partnership with the Hans Sloane Trust enables us to recognise and reward excellence in key STEM subjects across the region.  As a global business our success depends on the talent and skills of our most important asset, our people, and it is therefore crucial that we continue to invest in the next generation of scientists, mathematicians, engineers and tech experts. I would like to congratulate all the worthy recipients of the Hans Sloane medals and the Sloane McClay award and wish them every success for their careers.


Kathryn Thomson, Chief Executive of National Museums NI, said: “We’re so pleased to be involved in this partnership with the Hans Sloane Memorial Fund and Almac for another year. Sir Hans Sloane was renowned for his love for learning and his fervent quest for greater knowledge and understanding.  Sir Allen McClay was an icon of Northern Ireland’s long legacy of scientists and inventors.  At National Museums NI we share their passion for learning and deepening understanding.  Both men are fitting role models for the emerging talents in science. These awards recognise the exceptional young students that are excelling in the field of science and I congratulate them on their accomplishments.”


To find out more about the Hans Sloane and Sloane McClay awards, visit


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Pictured L-R: Tim Harrison VP Drug Discovery Almac Discovery, Samantha Collister Sloane McClay Award winner, Fionan McBride, Hans Sloane Medal winner, Dr Jane Wilde, Hans Sloane Trust Chair


Dankse MPU

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