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Celebrating Fleming's Achievement

May 2009 sees the 80th anniversary of the presentation of Sir Alexander Fleming's ground-breaking paper on the discovery of penicillin. We at K.A. are justly proud of our famous ex-pupil – one of two to hold a Nobel Laureate award – so when our local MP, Rt. Hon. Des Browne, contacted us to discuss this, we felt we should get involved.

That's why the LRC was closed earlier this week – your intrepid Librarian made the long haul “down south” to meet up with Mr Browne at Westminster.

On Monday evening, Mr Browne gave a speech in the House of Commons entitled “Sir Alexander Fleming and the Discovery of Penicillin 80 years on” – and I was lucky enough to be in the Strangers' Gallery to see the event. Mr Browne was kind enough to sign the original copy of his speech and pass it on to me – another item for the school archives! He also bought me a meal in one of the Parliamentary restaurants – maybe the receipt will appear in the newspapers one day….

As part of his speech, Mr Browne announced that the Society of General Microbiology will be sponsoring new Science Prizes at both Kilmarnock and Loudoun Academies. Fleming was elected the Society's first President in 1945.

Earlier that day, I visited St. Paul's Cathedral, where Fleming's ashes are interred near to such luminaries as Nelson and the Duke of Wellington. Not bad for a lad from Darvel!

Next morning, I visited the Alexander Fleming Laboratory Museum, at St. Mary's Hospital, Paddington – the site of his famous discovery. They have his original laboratory laid out just as it was in 1928, with a copy of the culture dish that changed the world of medicine (the original now being held in the British Museum). I also obtained some interesting pictures and other mementoes of my visit – which will soon be on display in the main reception area. The curator of the Museum, Kevin Brown, has inscribed a copy of his new Fleming biography to the school, and this has been catalogued into library stock.

So what did I learn from my trip – apart from a better knowledge of the London Underground, and how much a decent pint costs nowadays? Well, I know a bit more about the workings of Parliament, a lot more about Fleming and his legacy – and I also know that it costs £11 to enter St. Paul's Cathedral. Well worth it, though!

Report by Stephen King - School Librarian