TWO Warrington residents have been awarded prestigious Churchill Fellowships offering a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel the world and research cutting-edge solutions to important topical issues.

Elaine Manton, from Appleton Thorn, will be travelling to Australia and the USA to explore approaches to inspiring girls to pursue STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) careers.

The school STEM coordinator at Loreto Grammar School, said: “I can’t believe it I was absolutely shocked but delighted. I’m so incredibly humbled to be among such leading names in the category.

“As it is the year of engineering and we have a huge crisis with so few girls pursuing careers in technology and science, I hope I can come back from my experience and bring solutions to bridge the gap in the UK.

“International learning is so important for our girls and I look forward to being able to bring a global aspect their work.”

Pete Boardman, an entomologist, will be travelling to Namibia and the USA to research the taxonomy, identification, and distribution of African craneflies.

Pete, 52, from Lower Walton, said: “The interview process after the initial application was quite daunting, with a panel of people questioning me for twenty minutes.

“I’m completely thrilled and surprised to be awarded with the fellowship. It’s an amazing opportunity.”

Together, the pair will receive grants of more than £13,000. They are among 150 people from all regions of the UK who were selected this year from over 1,000 applicants.

Julia Weston, chief executive of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, said: “Churchill Fellows search the world for ways to improve their communities and professions.

“This life-changing opportunity is open to everyone, with our next round of grants opening on April 27.”

One hundred and fifty Churchill Fellowships are awarded each year to UK citizens aged over 18 who want to research innovative ideas or best practice in a subject of their choice overseas.