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Prime minister visits Jodrell Bank

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Prime minister Theresa May visited Jodrell Bank’s Observatory and Discovery Centre yesterday (Monday 21st May) as she gave the go-ahead for the facility’s £20 million ‘First Light’ science heritage project.

Macclesfield MP David Rutley and Congleton MP Fiona Bruce joined the prime minister on her visit, which saw Theresa May given a tour of the site by Professor Teresa Anderson and meeting members of the observatory’s astrophysics team.

Over recent months, Macclesfield’s MP David Rutley has worked with Professor Anderson, director of Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre, to help deliver the First Light project.

The First Light science heritage gallery will include an exhibition and engagement space incorporating the original fabric of the 1957 telescope dish, as well as an auditorium devoted to displaying immersive digital presentations, an education hub and a new cafe.

In the Autumn Budget, the observatory secured £4 million for the project, which unlocked the remaining funding to enable the First Light project to commence.

On her visit, the prime minister also viewed the Discovery Centre, where over 27,000 schoolchildren visit every year to learn more about Jodrell Bank’s historic role in the development of radio astronomy, helping to inspire the next generation of scientists.

The PM’s visit culminated with her delivering a speech on the importance of science within the government’s modern industrial strategy, in which she set out plans to use data, artificial intelligence and innovation to transform the diagnosis of chronic diseases.

Theresa May also spoke about how the industrial strategy will promote new technologies and modern construction practices to halve the energy usage of new buildings by 2030.

Speaking after the visit, David Rutley said: “It was an honour to join the prime minister as she gave the green light for Jodrell Bank’s First Light science heritage project.

“This important initiative will help to promote the world leading science undertaken at the site, inspire the next generation of young scientists, and boost the local visitor economy. It will also further underline north-east Cheshire’s commitment to science.

“I congratulate Professor Teresa Anderson and her team for all their hard work in making this new initiative possible, and look forward to seeing this impressive project come to fruition going forward.”

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