Stunning Science Success Celebrated

January 5, 2018

Craigavon, N.I., 04 Jan 2018 – Six top local science students, and their schools, have been recognised for their excellence through awards set up in memory of two of Northern Ireland’s most famous and forward thinking scientists, the Hans Sloane Medal and the Sloane McClay Award.

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.

This year, through a new partnership with Almac Group, a global pharmaceutical development organisation headquartered in Craigavon, the cash awards given to the top three ‘A’ level students have been increased and a new award for Northern Ireland’s brightest GCSE students has been established.

The winner of the Hans Sloane medal was Jamie Brannigan, a former pupil of St Colman’s College, Newry, who was also presented with a certificate and a cheque for £500. He is now studying Medicine at Cambridge University. St Colman’s principal, Cormac McKinney, also received a Hans Sloane medal from Professor Tim Harrison, Vice President, Drug Discovery, Almac Group.

Second place certificate and a cheque for £300 was presented to Zara Hamill from Omagh Academy and the third place certificate and a cheque for £150 was presented to Rachel Mooney from Regent House School, Newtownards.

The new award recognises excellence at GCSE level for science and maths students and has been introduced to commemorate the life and work of not only Sir Hans Sloane, but also Sir Allen McClay, the visionary entrepreneur and businessman from Cookstown, who founded the Almac Group.

The Sloane McClay awards were presented to Matthew Vennard, from Portadown College and principal Simon Harper by Professor Harrison. Matthew achieved the highest combined marks in biology, chemistry, physics and maths at GCSE level. Matthew, who is now is now studying for his ‘A’ levels, also received a cheque for £250.

Second place certificate, and a cheque for £150 was presented to James Pratt from Methodist College, Belfast. The third place certificate and a cheque for £50 was presented to Igor Silin, also from Methodist College.

Dr Sally Montgomery, a Hans Sloane Trustee, said: “The students have achieved remarkable marks across the subjects. The Trustees were delighted to introduce the new Sloane McClay award in partnership with Almac as it recognises the importance of maths and encourages students to consider STEM subjects for a future career in the field.”

Professor Tim Harrison, Almac, 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 inaugural Sloane McClay Award and wish them every success for their careers.

Kathryn Thomson, Chief Executive of National Museums NI, said: “We are delighted to partner with the Hans Sloane Memorial Fund and with Almac, recognising two of Northern Ireland’s most eminent scientists from the past. National Museums NI value learning and enriching the minds of all ages lies at the heart of what we do.  These awards look to the future by rewarding our exceptional young science students and I would like to congratulate the six prize-winners on their outstanding achievements.”

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



About Sir Hans Sloane

The Hans Sloane (Memorial Fund) Trust, in partnership with National Museums NI, was established in 1960 to commemorate the life and work of the notable Killyleagh surgeon and collector, Sir Hans Sloane (1660–1753). Sloane promoted inoculation against smallpox, the use of quinine (a treatment for malaria) and the health-giving properties of drinking chocolate mixed with milk. Sloane’s collection became the foundation of the British Museum.

About Almac Group

‘Partnering to Advance Human Health’

The Almac Group is an established contract development and manufacturing organisation that provides an extensive range of integrated services to the pharmaceutical and biotech sectors globally. The services range from R&D, biomarker discovery development and commercialisation, API manufacture, formulation development, clinical trial supply, IXRS® technology (IVRS/IWRS) through to commercial-scale manufacture.

The international company is a privately owned organisation that has organically grown over almost 50 years and now employs close to 5600 highly skilled personnel. Almac is headquartered in Craigavon, Northern Ireland with operations in the UK, Ireland, across the US (Pennsylvania, North Carolina and California) and in Asia (Singapore and Tokyo).

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