AN eminent scientist who was once head girl at Bury Grammar School has underlined to pupils the importance of following and fulfilling their dreams.

Dame Professor Janet Thornton was the guest speaker at the girls’ school’s prizegiving event held at Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall.

In particular, she was keen to promote women in science and stressed that research science and the desire to discover new things was one of the finest aspirations they could have.

Prof Thornton, who left Bury Grammar School in 1967, was appointed director of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory –European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI).

The EBI is responsible for collecting, curating and distributing global biological data including DNA and protein sequences with collaborators worldwide.

Her research area is computing and analysis of the biology and 3D structures of proteins.

She was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2000 and in 2012 was appointed a Dame Commander of the British Empire.

The theme of inspiration was taken up by headmistress Mrs Bobby Georghiou who spoke of the school’s new arts centre and praised students for their outstanding results.

And she also highlighted the achievements of other former pupils, including broadcaster Victoria Derbyshire, entertainer Victoria Wood and Lesley Fitton who has an exhibition at the British Museum.

She said: “For all of these women the starting point was the same — an academic education that taught them how to think and which gave them the capacity to launch themselves into stellar careers. And this year we see it all happening again. Our A level and GCSE students have excelled themselves.

“At A level our overall pass rate was 98.9 per cent, 78.8 per cent of the grades were at A*, A and B and 91 per cent of the grades were above grade C. A quarter of this year group gained at least three A grades each. Eight girls had at least four.

“Not surprisingly, all of our girls who applied through UCAS gained access to university courses, including the most competitive such as medicine and law.

“At GCSE, the overall pass rate at A*-C was 99.1 per cent; 73 per cent of all grades were at A/A* and 33 girls gained ten A/A* grades.”

Mrs Georghiou added: “Dedication and a willingness to do all in their power to make sure that our girls have opportunities such as those described here and the many others that happen throughout the year, not least in an extensive programme of extra curricular activities, characterise our BGSG staff.”