TRIBUTES to a Swindon Olympian and former Mr Britain have poured in after he passed away on Christmas Eve.

Former Olympic swimmer Brian Jenkins was a popular figure in the local community.

After his son Paul spoke to the Adver last week, many people responded to the story and reminisced about their experiences with the 74-year-old.

Kevin Gadd from Haydon Wick trained with Brian for 12 years as they both had a mutual interest in bodybuilding.

Kevin said: “My mother went to school with Brian and I first met him when I was 14 because I used to deliver the Star to Jenkins Plumbing in the town centre.

“Much later, I started bodybuilding training at Swindon Bodybuilders in the railway works, which moved to Everybody’s Gym after the works closed, and he was training in the same place, it’s a small world.

“He was always friendly and sociable and happy to give me advice and encouragement.

“He was a nice bloke, everyone had a good word to say about him, everyone had a lot of respect for him and looked up to him, and he was still in very good shape for a guy of his age.

“It’s a sad loss, he was a true gentleman and he’ll be missed by a lot of people.”

Brian competed in the 200m butterfly in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics when he was 20 and went on to win medals in the Commonwealth Games and European Games.

He held the British 200m butterfly record for 43 years and trained by swimming at Milton Road Health Hydro with no coach in-between competitions while also working as an apprentice plumber.

After putting his sporting days behind him, Brian worked at his own successful plumbing business B & G Jenkins and helped teach young swimmers at Swindon Dolphin ASC.

Trevor Brant of Bishopstone was one of Brian’s customers.

Trevor said: “One of Brian’s suppliers told me about his Olympic background, he was very humble and hadn’t mentioned it.

“Talking to Brian about how he used to train and what he had to put himself through to compete at that level was quite interesting for me and my daughter, who was starting her own Olympic path.”

“He inspired the younger generation of athletes.”

Trevor’s daughter Hanna went on to represent the UK in competitive sailing in the Youth Olympics in China in 2014.

He added: “Brian was kind, personable, generous and funny, and the quality of the work he did for me was far superior to any plumbing work I’ve had done before or since.

“He will be sorely missed.”

Brian passed away peacefully in hospital after medication taken to combat his heart infection failed to work and his family made the difficult decision to withdraw treatment.

He is survived by his wife Gill, his son Paul, daughter Karen and granddaughter Kyra.

Even people who only met Brian briefly remember the occasion well because he made such a positive impression.

Gary Evans recalls chatting to him a few years ago.

Gary said: “I only ever met him in passing in the Milton Road baths about five or six years ago.

“He initiated conversation with me and told me about his heart condition.

“He used to own Jenkins Plumbing and we’d recently had Jenkins fit our central heating.

“We chatted about his swimming days and he said that he was getting back into swimming on doctor’s advice after a long absence due to his condition.

“What struck me most about him was his open and friendly manner.”