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.”