Noble effort as Haverhill band member wins science ‘Oscar’ for his life’s work

Richard Pannell has won a lifetime achievement award from his employer, the Medical Research Council ANL-161128-125028001
Richard Pannell has won a lifetime achievement award from his employer, the Medical Research Council ANL-161128-125028001

A man from Haverhill, well known for his musical activities in the town, has won a national award from his Medical Research Council employer.

Richard Pannell travelled to Holborn, London, on November 17 after being nominated for a lifetime achievement award.

Out of the three shortlisted candidates, he was chosen as the UK winner and presented with an award by Sir John Savill, the company’s CEO.

He said: “Hearing that I’d been nominated and then shortlisted from nominations submitted by over 50 units nationwide was surprise enough, but I never expected to be the overall winner.

“It was a bit like the Oscars, with candidates lined up waiting for the golden envelope to be opened and to hear the line ‘and the winner is’.

“It was a surreal moment but a most enjoyable day.”

Mr Pannell joined the Lab of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, in November 1980 and during that time has worked for four supervisors, two of whom have received Noble prizes.

He considers his golden period the 12 years in the 1980 and 90s with Nobel Laureate Cesar Milstein, who received his prize for developing the technique of monoclonal antibody production – this basic research led to a revolution in medical diagnosis and therapy, especially in the field of cancer treatment.

During his 36 years in the lab, Mr Pannell has worked with numerous top scientists, many of whom he continues to keep in contact with.

He will retire from the lab next year after which time he intends to travel extensively with his wife, Diane.

Mr Pannell started playing with the Haverhill Silver Band at the age of nine and is now in his 50th year of playing brass.

He has played with various East Anglian bands but returned to Haverhill Silver around 14 years ago, becoming band secretary, which he will also be retiring from in 2017.