SIR Donald Barron - former chairman of York-based Rowntree Mackintosh and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation - has died, aged 94.

The father-of-five, who died peacefully at his home in Bishopthorpe, was also chairman of the former Midland Bank, chaired the trust which built York's Millennium Bridge and played a crucial role in the formation of the University of York in the 1960s.

Scottish-born and educated, Sir Donald was married to Gillian in 1956 and had three sons, Alastair, David and Roderick, and two daughters, Felicity and Julia.

He was an army captain in the Second World War, serving with the King's Own Scottish Borderers as a battalion adjutant, and was badly wounded by shrapnel in his shoulder while on the banks of the Rhine in March 1945, but made a full recovery.

He became a chartered accountant who came to York in 1952 when he was appointed chief accountant at Rowntree, living initially at Upper Poppleton before moving later to Bishopthorpe.

Sir Donald became chairman in 1966 and held the post until his retirement in 1981, leading its merger with rival confectionery firm Mackintosh and turning Rowntree chocolates such as KitKat from national products into international brands bought all over the world.

He was knighted in 1972 after Rowntree had received the first Queen's Award for Exports. Yorkie bar was also launched during his time as chairman.

Sir Donald was chairman of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation from 1981 to 1996, chairman of the Midland Bank - which later became part of HSBC - from 1982 to 1987, and chaired the York Millennium Bridge Trust, which built a pedestrian and cycle bridge over the River Ouse to form a new link between South Bank and Fulford.

Passionate about education, he was also a member of the York Academic Trust, which was created by York Civic Trust to press successfully for the creation of a university in York, and a hall of residence at the university is named after him.

*A Thanksgiving Service will be held at York Minster at 2pm on February 8.