Guests celebrate as festival launches into sixth year

Megan and Elizabeth OShea (Science Rocks), Antony Yates (Gatwick Airport), Steve Mould (comedian), Kate McWilliams (easyJet), Steve Sawyer (Manor Royal BID). Picture: Jon Rigby
Megan and Elizabeth OShea (Science Rocks), Antony Yates (Gatwick Airport), Steve Mould (comedian), Kate McWilliams (easyJet), Steve Sawyer (Manor Royal BID). Picture: Jon Rigby

A popular festival for students in Crawley officially launched last night and attracted 100 guests to celebrate.

Crawley STEMfest has returned for the sixth year.

The festival takes place in schools and colleges, in STEM Clubs and throughout the community during May and June each year, with events for people of all ages.

To kick off the festivities, an evening of science and comedy took place last night (April 4) at Welland Medical in Hydehurst Lane.

The evening was hosted by Steve Sawyer, director of the Manor Royal Business Improvement District (BID).

He said: “As well as being a lot of fun, Crawley STEMfest meets an important need.

“Low-level skills have been described as the greatest threat to UK competitiveness with about 40,000 STEM related jobs left vacant each year.

“Crawley STEMfest plays a key role in raising the aspirations of local people by introducing them to the fantastic careers on offer at a host of inspiring local companies.”

Guests heard from the likes of easyJet’s Kate McWilliams, the world’s youngest female captain, Antony Yates, head of engineering at Gatwick Airport, and inspirational sixthformers Megan and Elizabeth O’Shea, whose STEM journey took them from a simple science project in 2014 to releasing more than 100 GCSE revision videos.

The festival, expected to involve as many as 20,000 students, is organised by STEM Sussex, the STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) outreach support department at the University of Brighton, in partnership with Crawley Borough Council and Central Sussex College.

The headline sponsor is Gatwick Airport Limited, and the launch evening was sponsored by the BID.

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