South Shore molecular biologist gives primary pupils in Blackpool a taster session in snake 'anti-venom' medicine

A biologist at a leading research centre spoke with St John Vianney Catholic Primary School pupils to inspire them to think about their future careers.

By Lucinda Herbert
Wednesday, 11th May 2022, 12:30 am
Updated Wednesday, 11th May 2022, 10:52 am

Stuart Ainsworth spoke with children at St John Vianney Catholic Primary School, on Glastonbury Avenue, about his unusual career and explained how it’s possible to ‘milk’ a snake for its venom.

The molecular biologist grew up in South Shore. He still lives in Blackpool but works at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM). His job is to make medicine, commonly known as anti-venom, for people who have been bitten by venomous snakes.

In a virtual activity session he explained how 200 snakes - including deadly Black Mambas - are kept safely on site at LSTM and how part of his job involves using the venom extracted from the snakes in a laboratory.

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Dr Stuart Ainsworth and his research team at Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine taking part in a virtual session with St John Vianney Catholic Primary School.

The session was designed to show the 4 - 11 year olds that what they learn in the classroom can lead to an interesting and exciting future.

Nine-year-old pupil Seb, who would like to work with animals when he’s older, said: “I love snakes and have always wanted a pet snake. But my mum bought me a gecko called Echo instead and he’s brilliant.

“Stuart has such a cool job, working with snakes.”

They also heard from Hannah Bates, a marine biologist who works at the Sea Life Centre in Blackpool and often swims with sharks.

St John Vianney Catholic Primary School pupils took part in a virtual session with a molecular biologist to inspire career ambitions

Teacher Damian Horton, the school’s careers’ lead, said: “Blackpool is one of the most disadvantaged areas in the UK and for the children at St John Vianney’s, seeing people from the town who have gone on to have brilliant jobs – people like Hannah and Stuart – who they can relate to, is inspiring.

The event was part of the Inspiring Blackpool project

Katy Hampshire is from the charity organisers, Education and Employers. She said: “The key objective is to motivate and inspire children and to broaden their horizons. We want to challenge stereotypes and link the sessions to subject learning.

“Excellent work has already been done in the area over the past few years, to reinvigorate Blackpool as a leading area of raising aspirations and connecting children with future employment opportunities in the town and beyond.”