A WORLD-RENOWNED scientist has been awarded the MBE in the Queen’s birthday honours for services to chemistry.

Runcorn-born Dr Diana Leitch is an independent consultant who is internationally respected for her work as an academic librarian and information professional.

She is a trustee at Catalyst Science Discovery Centre in Widnes where she won nationwide acclaim for the inspirational Origins project which captures the birth of chemical elements in stars.

Dr Leitch, aged 68, has received congratulatory messages from Bejing, Africa and America.

She said: “I am absolutely thrilled. It has rocketed around the world. I’m delighted that it is bringing acclaim to Catalyst which has been mentioned in the House of Lords for its excellent science education.”

Dr Leitch, formerly from Moughland Lane, is keen to share her passion for science with Halton children.

She can trace her family’s involvement with the chemical industry back to the 17th century.

She said: “I feel very strongly about getting young children involved in science. If you do chemistry, it opens the doors to so many careers. You can become a doctor or go into physics, climate research, pharmacy, engineering or pharmaceutical research.

“There is a huge skills shortage and we need to equip our young people with the right skills.

“It is a privilege to be able to support Catalyst in the amazing work they do. They make science fun.”

Bryan Davies, chairman of Catalyst, said: “Diana is extremely committed, always willing to develop new initiatives and lead their introduction to the centre.

“This is further recognition of the ground breaking work that Catalyst delivers in the expansion of the teaching of chemistry to children.”

For more details about Catalyst, visit catalyst.org.uk.