TRIBUTES have been paid to a York academic and campaigner who has died aged 53.

Professor Paul Clarke worked in the chemistry department at the University of York and spear-headed a legal challenge to planners' decision to allow a new museum hall to be built across York's Leeman Road.

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Dr Clarke, who lived in St Peter’s Quarter, led the legal challenge last year on behalf of local residents, against the National Railway Museum's new Central Hall.

Last September the group decided against taking their action any further.

York Press: Dr Paul ClarkeDr Paul Clarke (Image: Newsquest)

Caroline Dessent, head of the chemistry department at the University of York said Dr Clarke died on Wednesday (November 22) and was 'a great chemist and an energetic, engaging colleague'.

She said: “We were terribly saddened to hear of Paul’s death. Paul was a talented synthetic chemist, who was deeply respected for his independence of thought, and his honest and enthusiastic support of the students and academics whom he worked with.

"He will be very sorely missed by his friends and colleagues at York and across the wider chemistry community.”

She said that, after an extended period of illness, Paul passed away in the comfort of his own home, surrounded by friends, family and his husband Szczepan.

Dr Clarke was well-known for high-quality research in organic chemistry, ranging from natural product synthesis with a focus on oxygen-containing heterocycles, through to studies of potentially prebiotic reaction processes.

He made many contributions to York's chemistry department, including enhancing graduate school training programmes, developing experiments for our teaching labs, and hosting visiting speakers, always with panache and a twinkle in his eye. He genuinely cared for his research students, as the many researchers trained by him over the course of his 20-year academic career would attest.

Dr Clarke first arrived at the department in 2006, having previously been an academic at University of Nottingham. He was chair of the Society for Chemical Industry (SCI) Yorkshire and Humber Regional Committee. Colleagues say he will be sorely missed by many both in and beyond the department.

An electronic book of condolences has been set up by the university for anyone who would like to send a message.

To contribute please email and it will be included.

York Press: Professor Paul ClarkeProfessor Paul Clarke (Image: Supplied)