Best of luck for the future, James!

James Piercy, the head of science made simple East in Norwich, is leaving science made simple for new adventures in public engagement. We are really going to miss him but we are also really excited for him in his new job. To reflect on the nine wonderful years of working with James, Wendy and James have both written some reflections to share with you all.

Mr James Piercy

Reflections by Wendy

Invoke The Piercy…

I’ve known the fabulous James Piercy for around 20 years. We first met through the brilliant British Interactive Group (BIG) and decided we should set up a presenter exchange programme so those of us involved in writing and presenting shows could do a short secondment at another centre. This had two benefits, first it offered the host centre new shows for a feature weekend, and secondly it helped the presenter with their own CPD by getting to learn how other centres do their shows. James and I did the first of these exchanges when I was at Techniquest and he was at INSPIRE, and I think others did too, but then the scheme seemed to end. There were only so many people at the time with a specific interest in shows, which is probably very different now, but at the time it felt a bit like we were lone kindred spirits amongst a group who were at the time more exhibit focused. We both loved demos and the craft of performing them, and I’d always admired his understated style of delivering wonderfully crafted material. To this day James is still one of the most humorous presenters to watch, and the fact he was then able to bring this strength to delivering material around such a difficult period of his life with his ‘Head’ show cemented my inspiration for his skill and resilience.

James performing at science made simple’s 15th birthday event

When the opportunity arose to work with James within science made simple in 2008, I couldn’t believe my luck. As one of the UK’s leading science presenters and show writers, he was a gift for our growing organisation – with qualities and values to match ours. Over the last 9 years James has been a fundamental part of the success of SMS during our growth and development into more training and international work. He has become renowned as well for his ability to just get on with things and get the job done – leading to an internal phrase here; “invoke the Piercy” – which means just get on and do it!  He has led on many diverse projects such as science shows for Malta, Education resources for the Bloodhound SSC project, our Herschel astronomy show and been lead presenter/trainer for us at many international festivals.

It’s very sad to lose ‘the Piercy’ from our team but we wish him all the luck in the world as he moves on to work with the scientists of the John Innes Centre, where we know he’ll have real impact as well. We are planning to continue to work with James on an associate basis, so we won’t be losing him entirely. If nothing else, the SMS team still needs more Molly Dancing training so we’ll be sure to call him back for that as a team building activity soon. He will certainly leave a Piercy-shaped hole in SMS that is hard to plug…

Reflections by James

“Hi. Are you Wendy? Show me your demo.”

It’s July 1997 and those are my first words to my future boss, creator of science made simple and all round good egg Wendy Sadler.

James performing “What’s Inside his Head?” in New Zealand

It was to be another 9 years and a few crossed paths before I joined the company to establish science made simple (East), working from a bustling office in my back room at home in Norwich, and enduring the daily commute down the stairs and through the kitchen.

As I prepare to leave the company and take on a new role in Public Engagement I find myself looking back over my time here and the many adventures I’ve had with the wonderful team.

Just a month after joining the company I started on my first project: delivering shows to rotary clubs. Since then I’ve been involved in work about high speed cars, space telescopes, aircraft and brains. I’ve learnt a lot about audiences and that mostly they are the same wherever you go in the world. Training researchers has given me the chance to meet some very clever people and get just a taste of the huge amount of research underway across the country. From exploring viruses and breeding mosquitos, reconstructing accidents from photographs, and building fusion reactors, scientists from all over the world are keeping the U.K at the centre of groundbreaking work.

As well as the creative opportunities the role has given me the chance to work alongside a host of talented staff, each bringing their skills together to deliver innovative and insightful shows and training sessions. I’ve seen the company grow from 5 staff to 15, a new regional office open and the Cardiff headquarters move twice.

I have been with science made simple for 9 years. So here are nine 9’s

I have:

  • Worked in 9 countries
  • Made 9 medical science made simple videos
  • Helped write 9 new science shows
  • Written 9 blog posts
  • Performed at 9 different science festivals (some more than once)
  • Worked with researchers in 9 different universities
  • Presented in 9 museums or science centres
  • Failed to complete list of an appropriate number of 9 things.

From all of us at science made simple, good luck James! It’s been a pleasure.

science made simple at our 15th birthday event


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