FORMER businessman Michael Albert Stacey has died at the age of 77.

Michael had an illustrious career spanning over 50 years working in the automotive and aerospace industries with Lucas and Meggitt.

One of five children, Michael and his family lived in Greenwich, London, but moved to Chippenham, Wiltshire during the blitz of London. He attended the City of Bath School for Boys before studying physics at Hull University.

His passion for engineering excellence inspired and defined his career. One of his first jobs after leaving university was to work for five years in the research and development team at Lucas automotive. He was the author of five patents, one of which became a highly successful product.

He remained with Lucas where he was promoted to Managing Director of the Electronics division. As the division's customer base was global with customers including Ford, General Motors, Renault and the major Japanese car manufacturers, Michael travelled extensively.

In the 1980s he was head-hunted internationally from Lucas automotive to Lucas aerospace where after finishing a postgraduate business course in Paris, he was appointed Managing Director. He improved the division's profitability by introducing modern manufacturing systems and oversaw the introduction of ground breaking technology such as the 'fly-by-wire' electronic flight controls that allow computers, rather than pilots, to control a plane.

In 1990, after 30 years with Lucas, Michael moved to Dorset to join Meggitt plc where he would be appointed Chief Executive Officer. He transformed Meggitt from a low tech parts supplier into a high tech aerospace company in sensors, avionics and actuators. By the time he retired in 2004 its value had increased ten fold to over £1 billion.

With over two decades of global aerospace experience Michael became recognised as an expert in his field and was elected a Fellow of The Royal Aeronautical Society.

Michael was also chairman of the board of Rubicon plc and was a director of Vitec plc, Sidlaw plc and Marshalls plc. After retiring from Meggitt he remained chairman of the board for three years. From 2006 - 2011 he was vice chairman of the board of Avio, an Italian aerospace company.

He also served on Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry from 1995 to 2000 and was a major sponsor of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.

Michael met his third wife Jane at Meggitt and the next 26 years of his life were his happiest. The couple had many friends in Horton and surrounding villages.

"Despite Mike's considerable success, his feet were always firmly on the ground and he avoided the airs and graces. He always had time for everybody, whether it was the chairman or the tea lady", said his son Nigel.

Michael died peacefully at home on Christmas Eve 2016 after a brief battle with cancer. His well attended thanksgiving service was held at Wimborne Minster on January 30.

He is survived by his wife Jane, sons Martin and Nigel, step daughters Beth, Anna and Lucy and four grandchildren.