TRIBUTES have been paid to a top research scientist whose work was recognised worldwide and led to the invention of a ground breaking ceramics compound.

Dr John Lumby, who lived at Fernhill Heath, near Worcester, has died in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham aged 79. His work on the material SIALON was internationally recognised and led him to conferences and giving papers worldwide from Europe to the USA and Japan. He had more than 20 patents worldwide.

Worcester layer and friend David Hallmark said: "John was a man who brought the discipline of academic training and success into helping others with their own interests. He made connections in many fields and to each he applied the integrity of high standards which was the essence of his respected and successful career in many spheres. He was able to display an inner contentment which he exuded with happy enthusiasm to others. He was a truly exceptional man of great intellect and character. Self-effacing about his many achievements – a man without the need to prove himself. He will be much missed by many.”

Dr Lumby was born in Birmingham and after attending Moseley Grammar School, worked at ICI Metals Division while attending night school at Handsworth Technical college for A Levels. He then went to the College of Advanced Technology, Gosta Green – later to become Aston University – where he obtained his first degree and to Birmingham University to gain his MSc and Phd.

In 1965 he joined Lucas Group Research Centre, where is work was almost entirely involved in the research and development of advanced industrial ceramics. Ground breaking research which was to have a huge worldwide impact in industrial manufacture in the future. Out of this work, with much blood sweat and tears, came the invention of SIALON.

These achievements were recognised by the award of The Prince of Wales Award for Industrial Innovation and Production in 1984 with Professor Ken Jack of Newcastle University. Dr Lumby left Lucas in 1989 and spent 10 years in the physics department at Warwick University as a visiting research fellow working on SIALON and continuing the ground breaking research which is carried on by others today.

He was a member of Droitwich Probus club, Black Pear Investment club, Droitwich U3A, Droitwich History and Archaeological Society, Shelsley Walsh Hill Climb. Dr Lumby was also an avid fan of Worcester Warriors and of Worcester Rugby club, where he was a committee member, membership secretary and club historian. He leaves a widow Erica, daughter Wendy, son Simon and grandson Sam.