I grew up in Gloucestershire, but I am ashamed to admit that despite this, I had never been to Cheltenham Science Festival (I know, it makes me cringe just saying this!).
Winning the FameLab Welsh National Final meant that I received an invite to take part in the UK Final of the competition, which nicely coincided with the beginning of Cheltenham Science Festival (it’s like they planned it that way!). In the run up to the final we received some wonderful training. Aside from the skills and techniques that I picked up in training, the main thing that I will probably take away is the how lovely all of the other finalists were! I know, it was a competition but with every corner of the UK represented the group were very supportive and clearly all had a real passion and talent for communicating science.
Before we knew it the final was upon us. The live audience and live stream were nerve wracking and despite a slightly challenging few seconds battling with a bubble gun (which I am sure will be available on the FameLab YouTube channel for your viewing delight soon!), I was pleased with my performance. All of the finalists spoke about different topics in different ways, with different props. It was inspiring to see that these different styles were equally effective and entertaining. After a tense battle, the winners of the audience and judges prizes were revealed. The incredible Tim Gordon won both the audience vote and judges first prize. Taking the audience on a journey into the sounds of the ocean, Tim’s pitch was genuinely brilliant, not only is he a lovely person but he has an incredible talent for science communication too. I take my hat off to you Tim.
Although FameLab was officially over, I was delighted to stay on and get involved in the Festival. It was an absolute joy to be able to introduce several speakers including; Ginny Smith, Jon Chase, Hannah Critchlow, Gina Rippon and Adam Rutherford as well as taking in how fabulous the festival was.
As I was reflecting on my time at the Festival the thing that I will remember most is how passionate these people are about bringing science to the general public. The Festival Programme was brilliant and ranged from free public events on the High Street, to huge schools science shows and ticketed public events. There really was something for everyone.
My other highlights included Andrew Smyth’s show on ‘Bakinering’, Jon Chase’s ‘Science of Roald Dahl’ and being interviewed by BBC Radio Gloucestershire for Jo Durrant’s Beautiful Universe show. Just being able to sit in the Green Room and talk to such friendly, welcoming and passionate people was a real honour.
Fingers crossed that I will be invited back to the Festival next year. Who knows what I will be doing in a year from now. At the moment, I’m feeling very positive about what the future might hold, the connections I made during my time at Cheltenham and how I can move forward pursuing my passion for science communication. We shall see!