Hundreds of mourners said their farewells to Don Richardson - "a true son of the Black Country" - at the weekend.

Mr Richardson, who died last month aged 77, was one half of the legendary property developers, the Richardson twins. And he would have looked down with a twinkle in his eye as the great and the good paid tribute to him on Saturday.

Indeed that mischievous Richardson humour was to the fore as St John's Church, at Hagley Hall, resounded to the theme tune from Last of the Summer Wine at the outset to the memorial service.

He was described in the order of service as patriot, entrepreneur, job creator, regenerator and outstanding Black Country business leader.

Mr Richardson was certainly all these things. With his twin Roy, who continues at the head of the business, Don developed the Merry Hill centre in Dudley and went on to transform many parts of Birmingham, the West Midlands and the UK.

He and his wife Anne, who survives him, had no children, but the business is being driven on by his nephews, Carl, Martyn and Lee.

"We have lost a great man and a loyal friend," Carl told the congregation at St John's, which Don, then living in Hagley, helped save from closure 25 years ago.

He described his uncle as "remarkably unassuming, dependable, straight talking and with the common touch".

While reserved, he was passionate about everything he set out to do. He could be unpredictable yet had an indomitable spirit.

"He squeezed every drop of life out of living," said Carl.

Digby, Lord Jones of Birmingham, giving a business tribute, said innovation and risk taking, making a difference and enduring legacy were key to the sector.

"Don Richardson ticked all three boxes, and then some," stated the Government Minister.

His "enduring legacy" was Merry Hill and Lord Jones recalled how the twins had taken it on in the teeth of recession when many thought it was a "barking idea".

"It must have been a very lonely time, with nights spent wondering whether it would go wrong."

Yet the Richardsons did not ask for help; they simply got on with it. "Don championed the Dudley and Black Country of today which, with Roy, he helped create.

"Everything he did, he did with a badge of pride. Of course he was tough - that is what business is."

And Lord Jones, a former lawyer with the then Edge & Ellison in Birmingham, recalled haggling with Don over fees, which, once settled, were paid "on the line".

He noted how one bill had gone in for #10,000 which Don wanted reduced to #5,000. Eventually they settled on #7,500.

"Don said it was the quickest #2,500 he had ever made," said Lord Jones. "I said 'Me too'."

And he went on: "Don Richardson never forgot where he came from. He was a great and successful businessman. He was a patriot and he touched people's lives."

Labour MP for Warley, John Spellar, speaking on behalf of the political and civic world, praised Mr Richardson's gifts to charities and good causes.

"Don made an enormous contribution to the regeneration of this area," he said.

He and his brother had invested in the Black Country when few others would entertain the idea. It was a time when areas like the Black Country had been virtually "written off".

But he knew that given a chance there were many people there capable of playing a role.

"Don beat the drum for the Black Country," said Mr Spellar.

He had the eye for an opportunity and the determination to make it happen. Though the United States had shopping malls, the UK didn't. Merry Hill changed all that.

"Don and Roy both transformed the Black Country and the retail scene in Britain. Don was a true son of the Black Country who did the area proud."

And the Rev Richard Newton, who conducted the service, paid tribute to Don's entrepreneurial spirit, vision, and his contribution to industry and enterprise.

The twins did their national service in the RAF which remained close to their hearts. The Royal Air Force Association President's Band played during the service.

West Midlands Deputy Lieutenant Frank Graves represented the Queen.

And many of Mr Richardson's business colleagues attended, including Rupert Mucklow, Tony Gallagher, George Carter, Grahame Wakeley, Richard Cliff, Eddie Morse and Peter Bache.

MPs, MEPs and civic leaders were present along with promoter Ron Gray from the boxing world - the twins have always been keen on the sport.

The service concluded with the Dambusters March before the mourners continued to a wake in a marquee in the grounds of Hagley Hall .

Don would have enjoyed the day except, as the wine flowed and the food was eaten, one wag reckoned a voice was asking: "Who is paying the bill for all this then?"

That would be Don. :