SWINDON’S visionary, innovative and popular first ever arts officer Terry Court, who died last week aged 73, stipulated in his will that his funeral should be a colourful affair to reflect his outlook on life.

Terry, who had a major impact on Swindon’s arts and cultural scene for two decades from the mid-Seventies, will “come home” to the town he loved for the funeral on Tuesday, September 6.

It takes place at Kingsdown Crematorium at 9.30am after which there will be a wake between 11am and 1pm at The Place, the upstairs bar at The Wyvern Theatre – one of several local venues that came under Terry’s remit during his tenure in Swindon.

The following day Terry’s ashes – as also specified in his will – will be scattered on the White Horse hill carving at Uffington, one of his favourite spots that he often visited and portrayed in paintings in his younger years.

Terry died in hospital in Cornwall on Monday, August 15, following a short illness.

His daughter Becky Court, 50 who lives near her father’s home at The Lizard said: “He really wants the funeral to be colourful.

“Anyone attending does not need to wear black – they should wear what they feel is appropriate.”

Becky said Terry did not wish to be driven to the crematorium shortly before the service as he always found such scenes too solemn.

“He will be there in the coffin which we will cover in lovely flowers when everyone arrives,” she said.

Swindon born and bred Terry was a former Swindon Art College student who became an arts teacher at Ferndale School before he was appointed Head of Thamesdown Cultural policies in 1974 – in effect, the council’s first arts officer.

Holding the position for 19 years, he oversaw the running of the Wyvern Theatre, the Town Hall Studios, the Arts Centre, the Link Arts Studios, the Joliffe Arts and Crafts studios, the Great Western Railway Museum and Thamesdown Foundation for the Arts, among others.

He instigated a golden era of arts in Swindon that included street theatre, poetry reading, alternative and open-air cinema, and a huge assortment of concerts, cultural events and festivals.

He introduced a programme that saw a series of large public murals appear around town – an initiative that earned Swindon the accolade of Murals Capital of the UK.

He also opened the door for young dance teacher Marie McCluskey to transform Swindon’s town hall into a nationally-renowned dance studio – for which director Ms McCluskey was later awarded the MBE.

During the late Eighties Terry was instrumental in the creation of Swindon’s pioneering and ongoing ‘per cent for arts’ policy that encouraged developers to sponsor public art which resulted in a huge array of sculptures and other works appearing in the town.

He and wife Lesley went on to run The Goddard Arms at Clyffe Pypard near Wootton Bassett, turning it into a drinking man’s art gallery before they retired to Cornwall.

Terry left some money for the Teckles animal sanctuary in Bristol Road, Whitminster, Gloucester – an organisation his late wife Lesley became involved with. Becky asked that in lieu flowers any donations should go to the charity.

At the wake she will also be offering large prints for a donation to Teckles of one her father’s favourite paintings, Girls on The Lizard.

“As well as enabling other people to become involved in all areas of art and culture he was also a talented artist himself,” she said.

Becky added: “We’ve no idea how many people will turn up. What we want it to be is a celebration of dad’s life.”