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Friends of St. Mary's gather for Reunion Dinner

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The organisation for former pupils, staff and governors of St. Mary’s College held its latest successful reunion event at the weekend. Members of the Friends of St. Mary’s gathered at the Liverpool Malmaison Hotel at Princes Dock for their 2015 Northern Reunion Dinner.
 
The evening was an ideal opportunity for guests to catch up with former friends and colleagues, and to hear about ambitious plans for the future of the organisation from new Chair, Jonathan Cunningham MBE. The Southport businessman and distinguished military veteran outlined details of his Get Connected initiative which aims to swell the ranks of the organisation and forge closer links between members. Mr Cunningham’s plans include a new St. Mary’s business network, career development support for former students and increased fundraising activity in support of the school.
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In the run-up to the 100th anniversary of the founding of the school in 2019, guests were also encouraged to dig deep to support the new St. Mary’s Centenary Fund. This will help to pay for additional scholarships and bursaries, and also fund investment in new facilities to provide pupils with an outstanding learning environment both now and in the future.
 
Speaking at the dinner, Jonathan Cunningham said, “Our reunion dinners are a great way to meet up with members and hear their views, and it’s been great to see significantly more recent school leavers here this evening. There is a huge family of people throughout this country and abroad with connections to St. Mary’s and we want the Friends to reach out to all of them. Our aim is to provide our members with an expanded range of opportunities to meet, engage with and support each other both in person and online.”
 
Over the years many distinguished former St. Mary’s pupils have attended Friends reunion events including Archbishop of Westminster Cardinal Vincent Nichols and former BBC Director-General Lord John Birt. Other well-known former students include poet Roger McGough, Olympic swimmer Fran Halsall and comedian Tom O’Connor.
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National recognition for Joshua's invention

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An invention by a pupil from St. Mary’s College has landed one of the top prizes in the country’s leading science competition for young people. 14-year-old Josh Quinlan, who lives in Southport, finished runner-up in the junior engineering and technology section of the National Science and Engineering Competition with his RaspberryMAGNIFY digital magnifier.
 
The competition finals were held at The Big Bang science fair in Birmingham, the UK’s largest celebration of science, technology, engineering and maths for children and young people. The St. Mary’s student received a medal, a certificate and a £300 cash prize presented by TV science presenter and children’s author Jason Bradbury. Josh - who is partially sighted himself - impressed the judges with both the innovation and potential price of his invention to help people with visual impairment, created in St. Mary’s Science Club with the help of mentor John Sharp, a Liverpool University PhD student.
 
The RaspberryMAGNIFY can be produced at a fraction of the cost of most similar magnifiers currently on the market. This is because Josh’s product is powered by the Raspberry Pi, a popular cut-price computer selling for around £30 which has revolutionised the world of programming, especially for schoolchildren. Josh is now looking to develop the prototype magnifier - which already has its own website and Facebook page - into a more user friendly and marketable form, hopefully with the support of the Royal National Institute of Blind People.
 
He commented, "It's been a real pleasure to work on this fantastic project. I wasn't expecting to do as well as I did but it's really nice that the RaspberryMAGNIFY has been so successful and people are interested in it."
 
Principal, Mike Kennedy, added, “Everyone at the school is delighted at Josh’s success with the magnifier which has been attracting a lot of attention. Just reaching the finals of a prestigious national competition like this one which attracts hundreds of entries each year is a major achievement, but to come away with one of the top prizes as well demonstrates just how good his invention is. The RaspberryMAGNIFY has real potential to improve people’s lives, and we’ll all be watching with keen interest how the product develops over the coming months.”
 

 
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