Tony Kelly (1929-2014), materials scientist, has been described as ‘the father of composite materials’ as a result of his pioneering contributions to the understanding of the behaviour of fibre composites. His early work with Robin Nicholson related the microscopic structure of metal alloys to their physical properties, generating insights that he successfully applied to composites. This work underpinned the developmentof ceramic composite materials and laid the foundations for understanding the strength of laminated composite structures. Much of his early career was spent at the University of Cambridge before he moved to the National Physical Laboratory where he was deputy director between 1969 and 1975. As vice-chancellor of the University of Surrey he was closely involved with the establishment of the Surrey Research Park.