Ulster Bank £50, which features Lurgan-born astrophysicist Dame Jocelyn Bell-Burnell, is shortlisted for World Banknote of the Year awards

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The new Ulster Bank note will be competing against currency from Barbados, Egypt, Peru, Indonesia and Pakistan

A new Ulster Bank note that features the work of Lurgan-born astrophysicist Dame Jocelyn Bell-Burnell has been shortlisted for The International Banknote of the Year Award, alongside currency from Barbados, Egypt, Peru, Indonesia and Pakistan.

Run by the International Bank Note Society (IBNS), The International Banknote of the Year Award seeks to recognise an exceptional note issued each year.

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The award winner will be decided from the shortlist by the IBNS, who will consider the artistic merit, design, use of colour, contrast, balance, and security features of each nomination.

Ulster Bank’s polymer £50 note, which came into circulation last summer, features Dame Jocelyn’s iconic 1967 discovery of pulsars - spherical, compact objects that are about the size of a large city but contain more mass than the sun.

Dame Jocelyn, who was born in Lurgan, is considered one of the world’s foremost astrophysicists. Her discovery was a sensational find, recognised with the Nobel prize for physics in 1974.

The design of the £50 note heavily features women working in Northern Ireland’s burgeoning life sciences industry. It also portrays ‘Millies’ working at the loom, as a homage to the unsung heroes of Northern Ireland’s great linen industry. These women were seen as ‘unskilled operatives’ at the time but are celebrated in the note for their skill and graft.

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There are also nods to Northern Ireland’s ship building and aviation sectors, the creative industries, and its place as a centre of excellence in cyber security.

On the other side of the note, there are a range of flora and fauna found in Northern Ireland, including a pine martin, a cryptic wood butterfly, and gorse, whose thorny spines make it a corridor and safe haven for wildlife.

Delighted to have the £50 shortlisted, Sandra Wright, senior HR manager at Ulster Bank, said: “The note designs are a celebration of the people and places of Northern Ireland, building on the designs of our £5, £10 and £20 notes. But this note has a particular focus on Northern Ireland women and women’s role in life and industry here, including amazing achievements such as Dame Jocelyn Bell’s discovery of pulsars. We are really honoured that it is shortlisted for the award.”

Proud of the new banknote’s design and popularity, Terry Robb, head of personal banking in Northern Ireland, added: “We have experienced a huge increase in customers moving to digital transactions but bank notes continue to be an important part of the way that many people interact with us. We’re really very proud of our banknote designs, which are a great celebration of Northern Ireland, and Ulster Bank’s important role in local life.”

Previous winners of the award include Aruba’s 100 Florin note in 2019 and Mexico’s 100 Pesos note in 2020. Other past winners are from countries including Kazakhstan, Trinidad and Tobago and Uganda.