A CRUSADING campaigner hailed ‘a real fighter’ devoted his life speaking up for small businesses.

Tributes have been paid to dedicated Stan Mendham, 87, who founded The Forum of Private Business in 1977.

The chartered engineer, who lived in Delamere Park, Northwich, died peacefully on May 12 after a long illness.

This indefatigable visionary and inventor has left a remarkable legacy.

His organisation now represents more than 25,000 businesses across the UK, offering firms advice, protection and support.

Proud wife Brenda said: “Stan set up the forum to give small and medium sized businesses a voice alongside large corporations and trade unions by ensuring their concerns were raised in Parliament through MPs.

“He was a fighter, a giant of a man.”

Northwich Guardian: Stan Mendham relaxing at home in his gardenStan Mendham relaxing at home in his garden

His tenacity to fight for change for the small business community was recognised with victory in 1998 when he became the first private individual to put a bill through Parliament.

The introduction of a statutory rights of interest on overdue commercial debt protects small businesses when payment for goods or services is delayed.

Many firms often struggled for survival when bills were left unpaid.

The following year Stan received an OBE for services to small businesses.

A Christian calling inspired him to become a business champion.

“The most important thing to Stan in his entire life was his faith and belief,” said Brenda.

“He was an amazing Christian.”

Stan retired in 2001 after suffering a stroke.

Northwich Guardian: Stan Mendham receiving the OBE at Buckingham PalaceStan Mendham receiving the OBE at Buckingham Palace

“He continued to be a positive and encouraging influence on all he met,” said Brenda.

“Freely giving of his time, knowledge and enthusiasm for life, imparting the wisdom of his years.”

He also wrote a column in the Guardian answering questions and offering business advice.

Stan was born in Tottenham and evacuated during the Second World War when he was only four.

He served with the RAF during national service and played the clarinet in a band.

He was a model railway enthusiast and lifelong coin collector.

“The whole family will miss him greatly,” said Brenda.

“He was a larger than life character. He got the best out of everyone, one of those amazing people you very rarely meet.”

Stan’s funeral is being held at St John’s Church, Knutsford, at 1pm on Monday, May 23, followed by interment at Gorstage Cemetery.

Donations if wished to Macmillan Cancer Care.