Peter A Young

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Peter Alexander Young
Born 24 December 1924(1924-12-24)
Died 14 April 2011(2011-04-14) (aged 86)
Cause of death Following a fall
Education Boston Grammar School (1935-42); St. Catharine's College, Cambridge
Occupation Metallurgist
Spouse Margaret

Peter Alexander Young (24 December 1924 - 14 April 2011) was educated at Boston Grammar School (1935-42).

Address given by Canon Des Sims at the Funeral Service for Peter Alexander Young who died on 14 April 2011 at the age of 86 years.[1]

The service was held in Lincoln Cathedral on 12th May 2011.

Peter, who was affectionately known as "Prof", was born on Christmas Eve 1924 in Boston, here in Lincolnshire.

At a very early age, I‟m told it was as a four year old, Peter was very interested in music and singing. He persuaded his mother to take him to the local church so as to become a choirboy. The choirmaster would only accept him if could read a passage out of the bible. On opening the Bible at a random page and pointing to the passage, Peter did not hesitate and read the passage perfectly, thereby embarking as a lifetime member of a choir.

He attended the Boston Grammar School for Boys, finishing with shining Higher School Certificate qualifications, being rewarded with a scholarship to read Natural Sciences at St. Catharine's College at Cambridge.

Whilst at school he spent many happy hours wandering around the docks, fascinated by the boats, being intrigued by all things mechanical in the little seaport. In the long summer holidays he would hitch a berth on one of the boats across to Europe.

Before taking his degree at Cambridge, he cycled to London to visit the Admiralty, declaring a wish to join the Royal Navy. So he was on active service for four years during the latter stages of the Second World War. Returning from the Navy, he then went to St. Catharine‟s to take his degree in Natural Sciences, followed by his doctorate in Metallury, leading on to an Elmore Research Fellowship and the Ablett Prize.

On leaving Cambridge in 1954, he joined the Imperial Smelting Corporation at Avonmouth, undertaking company business in Spain and Iran, inspecting ore deposits being mined by the parent company RTZ.

It was while in these foreign countries that he was able to study the faith and religions of the different nations, becoming quite an expert on religions.

At the age of 31, he became Director of Research for the company - Head Wrightson, this company being one of the constructors of Britain‟s first nuclear power stations. He went to America to meet Eugene Wigner, the Nobel Prize winning physicist who first understood the physics of stored energy in nuclear piles, later called “Wigner Energy”, the uncontrolled release of which caused the Windscale disaster in 1957. Peter was consulted with on ways to cope with this, the first major incident with a nuclear pile out of control. If Peter would have been with us today, I am sure he would have been consulting with the authorities in Japan to make safe the nuclear disaster at Fukushima.

Peter loved to describe how, at the Princeton Institute for Advance Studies, he saw Albert Einstein walking across the lawns on a cold snowy day in his carpet slippers.

In Australia in the sixties, Peter was Director of the Mineral Development Laboratories (AMDEL) and established the scientific credentials of AMDEL as a leading consulting organisation with a worldwide reputation.

Moving to Leeds University in 1968 as Professor of Applied Mineral Sciences, he initiated outstanding research in many diverse fields. Being a polymath, with a large array of publications, Peter was an enthusiastic teacher of undergraduates, able to engage with a wide circle of friends. A close friend relates one of his most endearing memories of Peter in his response to the asking of a question: “He never replied promptly with a quick response. There would be a silence, a furrowed brow, a shrug of the shoulder, you could sense his brain turning over in his mind the ideas you expressed in the question, and then he would reply in a well-reasoned manner with supporting references for further study.”

Peter was always proud of St Catharine's College and played a part in the musical life of the college; he sang in the Chapel choir and was President of the Music Society. In 2006 he was elected as a Fellow Commoner. He was asked by the Chancellor, the Duke of Edinburgh, to join a committee comprising senior Cambridge Graduates to advise on the development and direction of the University; some of these meetings being held in Buckingham Palace.

In 1985, Peter came to Derbyshire as Consultant Metallurgist for the quarrying company – Longcliffe Quarries, commuting from his home in Harrogate where he lived with his wife Margaret. In 1990 they came to live in Parwich so as to be close to his work. He also helped to set up the company's composting business "Vital Earth".

Upon the death of his wife Margaret in 1998, who was editor of the local Church Magazine, Peter then took over the role as a very devoted and creative editor of the magazine for the five local parishes.

It is fitting that this funeral service should be held here in Lincoln Cathedral: he loved to relate how his mother had been baptised and confirmed in the same beautiful Cathedral, by Bishop Edward King. And it is here that a special evensong was held to celebrate his love and commitment to another Margaret – Dr. Margaret Spurr.

Peter went into hospital after a fall, which in the end caused his death. But until his very last day he was courageous and loving to Margaret and the close friends and colleagues who visited him.

Professor Peter Alexander Young was truly a remarkable man.


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