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UK news in brief

14 January 2022


Cambridge centre to probe life in the universe

A NEW research centre will be established at the University of Cambridge to explore “the nature and extent of life in the universe”, it was announced on Monday. The Leverhulme Centre for Life in the Universe “will support fundamental cross-disciplinary research over the next 10 years to tackle one of the great interdisciplinary challenges of our time: to understand how life emerged on Earth, whether the Universe is full of life, and ask what the nature of life is”, a statement from the university said. The centre will be funded by a £10-million grant from the Leverhulme Trust. Its director will be Professor Didier Queloz, who won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2019, for the first discovery of an exoplanet.

‘Legendary’ organist and composer dies, aged 104

TRIBUTES have been paid to the Organist Emeritus of York Minster, Dr Francis Jackson, who died on Monday, aged 104. Dr Jackson was a renowned recitalist, composer, and a former Master of Music at the Minster. The Director of Music at York Minster, Robert Sharpe, said: “The world of church music has lost one of the great legends of our time . . . His was a remarkably long and illustrious life and he remained active as a superb organ recitalist into his tenth decade and, as a composer, into his 11th. His name will for ever be associated with York Minster, where he served for so many years, and whose organ was made justly famous by his pioneering recordings.” Dr Francis was awarded a CBE in 2007, for services to music. His autobiography, Music for A Long While (Francis Alan Jackson), was published in 2013 (Books, 29 November 2013).

RC Church in Ireland loses ageing clergy and religious

MORE than 20 per cent of serving and retired parish priests and Brothers in Ireland died between 2019 and 2021, the Irish Examiner reported on Saturday. Using figures drawn from the Irish Catholic Directory, it reported that 174 nuns and 166 priests and Brothers died in 2019; a further 191 nuns died in 2020, and 223 priests and Brothers also died; and, up to September 2021, another 131 nuns had died, as had 131 priests and Brothers. A director of the Association of Catholic Priests, Fr John Collins, was quoted as saying: “The figures are shocking. It is very sad to see so many have died in such a short space of time. We are all aware of an ageing priest population, but it is only when you look at the figures that you realise what a high number it is.”

BEM for Mission to Seafarers’ Jan Webber

THE Director of Development at the Mission to Seafarers, Jan Webber, was awarded the British Empire Medal in the New Year Honours list, for services to Women in the International Maritime Sector (News, 7 January). “The award recognises 16 years of service across positions in the Sailors’ Society and her current role at Mission to Seafarers since 2017,” a statement from the Mission to Seafarers said. Ms Webber said: “I am amazed and deeply touched to have been considered worthy for such an honour. The shipping industry is a friendly, welcoming, and tight-knit community, and I have been privileged to meet so many people from all over the world.”

Mission to SeafarersJan Webber (centre)

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