A moving celebration of a man hailed as a giant in the West Midlands has been paid by the region's business community.

Meetings were cancelled and deals were put on hold as hundreds packed into Birmingham's Symphony Hall in memory of inspirational entrepreneur Roger Dickens.

Civic leaders joined the corporate and commercial sectors along with friends, families and colleagues of the Black Country-born family man they hailed as a true "local hero".

Mr Dickens, who was Deputy Lieutenant and High Sheriff for the West Midlands, died in January at the age of 58 following a long illness. On the day of his death he and his wife Lainey renewed their wedding vows.

Director-general of the Confederation of British Industry Sir Digby Jones was among those who yesterday gave an address. He described Mr Dickens, who hailed from Tipton, as a "giant" on whose shoulders he urged others to stand.

Sir Digby told The Birmingham Post he considered Mr Dickens as "one of the great leaders of the West Midlands".

He said: "He has left a vacuum which will never be completely filled."

Eight years ago Mr Dickens was awarded a CBE for services to West Midlands industry, and in 2004 the University of Central England in Birmingham presented him with an honorary doctorate in recognition of his many achievements.

A past president of Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, and chairman and founder of Birmingham Forward, he held a number of senior positions in accountancy giant KPMG, most notably as UK deputy senior partner.

He led the management buyout and later flotation of medical software firm iSoft in 2000. Under his chairmanship the West Bromwich Building Society doubled in size.

Mr Dickens held directorships with a number of other companies in the West Midlands, including Wolverhampton construction firm Carillion, the National Exhibition Centre and Headlam Group.

The celebration, hosted by Central TV's Bob Warman, heard tributes to his humour and leadership.

Mr Dickens leaves a widow, Lainey, two sons, Marcus and James, daughter Suzie and two grandchildren.