Chester's ex-Labour MP Christine Russell presented a Lifetime Membership Award to the man she described as her ‘political mentor’.
Ms Russell, accompanied by Labour parliamentary candidate Chris Matheson, visited John Crawford, 98, at his Huntington home to present him with a certificate commemorating more than 75 years’ membership of the Labour Party.
The certificate was signed by Labour leader Ed Miliband and Iain McNichol, general secretary of the Labour Party. John told the Chronicle: “I didn’t expect anything like that.”
Ms Russell said: “John, known as ‘Jack’ to his family and friends, is the ‘Father of Chester Labour Party’ and was my political mentor. He encouraged me to stand for election to Chester City Council and later for the parliamentary seat.”
She said John had always encouraged women to join the party and stand for office. Apart from herself this included former councillor Gwyn Cooper and serving councillors Marie Nelson and Sam Dixon.
John was born in St Anne Street, Newtown, in April 1915 and attended Egerton Street and St John’s schools.
His earliest political memory is delivering Labour Party leaflets aged nine during the 1924 General Election which saw the victory of Britain’s first Labour Prime Minister, Ramsey McDonald.
In his professional life, John worked in the City Treasury until local government reorganisation in the 1970s, when he transferred to Cheshire County Council. During the Second World War, John spent five years based in Tripoli in North Africa with the Royal Army Service Corps.
John fought a number of parliamentary elections for the Labour Party in both Chester and Northwich constituencies. He came very close to taking the Chester seat in 1966.
Ms Russell said John’s contribution to Chester Labour Party and the Co-operative movement had been ‘immense’. For years he served as chair of the constituency party. John represented his local community of Huntington on the rural district council and acted as chairman until the council’s abolition in 1973.
When he retired from the county council, John was elected to Chester City Council for College Ward in 1979 and served as lord mayor of the city in 1983/84. He was made an Honorary Freeman of the City at the same time as the Duke of Westminster.
Ms Russell added: “A man of total integrity who has dedicated his life to helping others, John Crawford has always been admired and respected by people across the political spectrum in Chester.”