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Big name speakers and first Principal Partner announced for British Science Festival in Hull

The British Science Association and the University of Hull have today (18 April 2018) announced five of the star speakers who will be involved in this year’s British Science Festival. The first Principal Partner, Ørsted, has also been unveiled for this landmark event which will bring the best of British science to Hull and the Humber this September.

At the launch event this morning, special guest Helen Sharman, Britain's first astronaut, Honorary Fellow of the British Science Association and honorary graduate of the University of Hull, shared her thoughts about engaging and inspiring communities in the importance of science.

World-renowned beatboxer and four-times UK beatbox champion, Grace Savage, will be taking part in an event that delves into the mysteries behind the human voice box, and how beatboxers are able to manipulate their own to produce the unique sounds and tones they’re known for.

Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, who famously was the first to discover radio pulsars in astronomy, will be in conversation with critically-acclaimed poet, Lemn Sissay at the Festival to discuss their shared love of poetry. Jocelyn uses poetry to help articulate her work in physics, and she’ll discuss with Lemn why she believes poetry is the perfect medium to frame some of the biggest questions in science and should act as an inspiration for creative writers and poets everywhere.

Lord John Prescott, a proud ambassador for Hull and the Humber,will also be involved in the event taking place this September.

And finally, Professor Jim Al-Khalili, award-winning broadcaster with the BBC, has been announced as the incoming president of the British Science Association and will give his Presidential Address at the British Science Festival in Hull. Jim will take up the role in September, succeeding current BSA President, Professor Dame Uta Frith.

Speaking ahead of the announcement today, Professor Jim Al-Khalili said: “I am delighted to be taking up the presidency of the British Science Association in September. I have been actively involved with the charity for nearly 20 years – starting out as a member of the Physics and Astronomy section, and then later becoming a trustee and Vice-President for sections –  so I feel honoured to be taking on this important role for the BSA. Having been so involved over the last two decades has offered me a real insight into how the BSA has developed and changed particularly in the last couple of years, so I am very much looking forward to contributing to the BSA’s newly-launched strategy over the coming months.

“I am also incredibly excited to be taking part in this year’s British Science Festival in Hull. As a city that is bursting with culture and heritage, particularly in science and innovation, it is surely set up to be an exceptional event and it is a privilege to be involved.”

"Hosting the Festival provides an incredible opportunity not only to bring the best of British science here but to showcase nationally our region’s significant contribution to this field."  David Richards, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research and Enterprise, University of Hull

Featuring a diverse programme of over a hundred talks, debates, performances and activities, the British Science Festival will be held between Tuesday 11 and Friday 14 September 2018 with events happening across the city as well as on the University campus.

The event will also be followed by the two-day Hull Science Festival, hosted at the University on Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 September. Featuring a host of hands-on activities, demonstrations, and talks designed to engage all the family, the Hull Science Festival will be a fantastic way to round off a week of scientific exploration and discovery in Hull this September.

David Richards, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise at the University of Hull said: “Hosting the Festival provides an incredible opportunity not only to bring the best of British science here but to showcase nationally our region’s significant contribution to this field. Securing such a prestigious event is a great way to celebrate the pioneering research, innovation and creativity that comes out of Hull and the Humber.”

Ørsted, one of Europe’s leading renewable energy companies, has been confirmed as the Festival’s first Principal Partner. Ørsted’s vision is a world that runs entirely on green energy and the company has already invested £8bn in UK infrastructure and will be investing at least another £4bn by 2020.

Matthew Wright, Ørsted’s UK Managing Director, said: “Ørsted is absolutely committed to the Humber region, which is fast becoming a world-leading hub for renewable energy. We’ve already invested billions of pounds into the area and are hugely excited to be part of the British Science Festival, which promises to be a fantastic event showcasing exceptional British science and innovation.”

The British Science Association has also today announced that it has opened a grant scheme for community groups and other organisations based in Hull and the Humber region that would like to be involved in this year’s Festival. The BSA will provide grants of £500 to community organisations that work directly with audiences that are traditionally underrepresented and currently not engaged in science activity. The aim of these grants is to empower and support community groups to run their own science activities as part of the Festival, enabling new local audiences to engage with science.

The deadline to apply for a grant is Friday 25 May and applicants must complete a short online form.

Working in partnership with the University of Hull and other organisations in the Humber region, the British Science Festival will be a flagship event as part of Hull’s City of Culture legacy focusing on three key areas - energy and the environment; health and the medical sciences; and exploration, movement and discovery. 

The Festival will focus on an audience of non-specialist adults with a broad interest in science, delivering 100 events, specially curated by the British Science Association. World-leading academics from University of Hull and other institutions and organisations across the UK will present, discuss and debate cutting-edge science (across the scientific spectrum including technology, engineering and social sciences) at a range of different events, from talks to performances.

The British Science Festival has only visited Hull twice in its history, the first in 1853 and most recently in 1922. 

 The Festival has been the stage for many iconic moments in history – such as the famous debate on Darwin’s controversial theory of evolution between Thomas Huxley and the Bishop of Oxford in 1860. It also saw the first use of the word ‘scientist,’ in 1834. 

 The origins of the Festival, previously known as the annual meeting, can be traced back to York, in 1831. Since then it has travelled the globe, including visits to Montreal and Australia. 

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