A brilliant scientist who died at the age of 26 is being remembered with a school prize put forward by his former classmates.

Peter Young, who grew up in Horsforth, became an associate professor in astronomy at the California Institute of Technology until his death in 1981.

But his name will live on in the form of a prize set up by his old friends, 40 years after they all left school.

The Class of 72 from Leeds Grammar School were at a reunion when they came up with the idea of honouring Peter, who had been a rising star in the study of astronomy.

They have clubbed together with Peter’s father to establish the Peter Young Prize, which will be awarded annually to a student of astronomy at their old school.

 Peter, described as “a brilliant scientist”, achieved the top first in maths in his year at Cambridge and an MSc majoring in astronomy at the University of Texas in Austin. He completed his PhD at the California Institute of Technology.

Peter’s classmate Irv Lee said: “At our recent reunion we were saddened to think that Peter never had the chance to be part of the exciting advances in astronomy and maths during the past three decades.

“We believe he would have become well known on the world stage for his academic work and we wanted to ensure his name lives on.”

They tracked down Peter’s sister, Frances Deadman, to seek his family’s blessing for the prize – and she attended the inaugural presentation.

 She said: “It is very touching that Peter’s classmates thought so highly of his talents.

“Astronomy was what Peter always wanted to do and as a founder member of the school’s Astronomy Club it is fitting that a prize for this subject is named after him.”

Year 12 student Matthew Li is the first person to receive the prize.

Matthew, also from Horsforth, said: “It is a huge privilege to be the first recipient of this prize, which brings more recognition to astronomy and its academic credentials.”