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Designer bugs coming to hospital’s open day

18 June 2013


Scientists working in Southend University Hospital’s pathology laboratories routinely see bugs of all shapes, sizes and colours as they peer down their microscopes. But they are likely to encounter some specimens they have never examined before when they invite children to ‘design a bacteria’ at the hospital’s grand Open Day on Sunday, June 23.

Staff from the microbiology and biochemistry labs are joining forces to show that science can be great fun.

The competition was dreamed up by microbiologists Vicky Cole and Charlie Jude.

Vicky's five-year-old daughter, Hayley, is already showing signs of following in her mother's footsteps - she has her own microscope and white lab coat and will be there at the open day to lend a helping hand.

Vicky said: "I was always drawn to science because I want to know how things work. People often think it is a difficult career path to follow and you have to be a bit of a boffin - but there are so many different areas to work in and you just need to have an interest."

Visitors to the open day, which will be opened at 11.30am by reality TV show presenter Lorne Spicer (Cash in the Attic, Car Booty, Trash to Cash), will find the lab staff in the education centre (Joyce Long room) at the rear of the hospital site.

There will be an array of craft materials and coloured pencils for children to invent their own glitterbug or multi-coloured microbe and a prize of a cuddly bug and toy microscope for the winning designer bacteria.

Vicky, who also acts as a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) ambassador to inspire the next generation to follow a career in these areas, added: "We will have lots of leaflets and information to give out to anyone interested in becoming more involved in science and members of the hospital's pathology team will be there to talk about their particular areas."

Other events taking place at the open day include demonstrations, tours of different parts of the hospital, free health checks and expert lectures - as well as a bumper fundraising fete in aid of the hospital's Bosom Pals On The Road Appeal.

Local auctioneer Paul Stacey, a regular of TV'sFlog ItandCash in the Attic, and his brother Mark will be giving expert opinion on any treasures brought along on the day.

There will be candyfloss, ice cream, popcorn and cake stalls but - for those wanting something more substantial, a traditional Sunday roast is being served in the first-floor restaurant.

Lucy Thomas-Clayton, associate director of community engagement at the hospital, said: "We have tried to provide as broad a programme as possible with literally something for all the family."