Former Preston mayoress who helped "save Chemistry" across the UK dies aged 69

Tributes have been paid to former Preston Mayoress Dr Penny Chaloner, who has died aged 69.
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Dr Chaloner, who served as Mayoress when her mother Dorothy Chaloner was Mayor in 1983/4, died in her sleep on October 28 at home in Fulwood.

Born in Preston in 1953, she won a scholarship to study Natural Sciences at Cambridge University, and achieved the highest marks of the year in the Chemistry tripos of 1973. She then went on to complete her PhD on Coordination Catalysis three years later.

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In 1976 she moved to Oxford University, where she was awarded a Research Fellowship at St Hugh’s.

Dr Penny Chaloner (right) pictured with her mother Dorothy when both on mayoral duties in 1984Dr Penny Chaloner (right) pictured with her mother Dorothy when both on mayoral duties in 1984
Dr Penny Chaloner (right) pictured with her mother Dorothy when both on mayoral duties in 1984

Between 1981 and 1983, she taught at Rutgers in the United States, then joined the University of Sussex, where she spent the rest of her career in the Chemistry department.

The university paid tribute this week, describing Dr Chaloner as “a kind, thoughtful, creative, and inspirational colleague”.

Professor Hazel Cox said: “Penny’s breadth and depth of knowledge and strong opinions were formidable, and she was always willing to speak her mind.

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“Her savvy understanding of politics and education played an integral part in the campaign to save Chemistry in 2006, which resulted in a Science and Technology Select Committee, that halted the spate of Chemistry department closures in the UK."

She added: “Penny was a brilliant scientist, innovative educator, and a generous friend. We remember fondly the fun and stimulating discussions late into the evening over a glass of excellent red wine and her love of opera at Glyndebourne. She will be greatly missed.”

Dr Chaloner’s funeral will take place at 11am on November 22 at St Andrew’s Church, Cottam.

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