TRIBUTES have been made for “visionary” Mike Juggins, who for many years championed dyslexic people in Swindon while becoming a prominent member of the town’s arts community.

Mike, who has died aged 53, worked extensively with dyslexic children, students and adults in Swindon and was also a widely exhibited artist of “striking and unusual” paintings.

He spent most of his life in Swindon where he was determined not just to overcome his own dyslexia, but help countless others come to terms with the condition.

“We’re just a bit different but it is also a gift” was Mike’s mantra as he gave talks, made films, wrote pamphlets and ran numerous creative workshops in Swindon.

He used art, computers and film-making to help dyslexic people build confidence, acquire self-esteem and a sense of achievement to help them realise their potential.

Retired Commonweal school community arts officer Josie Williams, said: “Mike was a visionary who was well ahead of his time. He helped people see their disabilities as abilities.”

“He also lectured widely on dyslexia and helped develop programmes to assess and aid with learning strategies.”

Josie, who ran a dyslexic-based project with Mike called Ants In Yer Pants, added: “Mike was at his best when he was delivering in the classroom. Irrespective of age or ability he engaged and made people feel special.”

Mike, who was born in Sutton Benger near Chippenham, overcame his dyslexia – a word blindness which hampers reading and writing ability – through his talent for art.

After achieving a BA Honours degree in Art in Social Context in the 1990s, he became determined to help others with dyslexia – a condition affecting up to ten per cent of the population.

He was involved in the Swindon Dyslexic Adult Support group and became independent dyslexia adviser at Swindon College where he produced handbooks for students with the condition.

He became Headlands School artist in residence for dyslexic students and worked with young offenders and prison inmates.

Mike also ran dyslexia focused workshops at the Nationwide Building Society HQ in Swindon, arranged by Brendan Hamley who worked at the complex as a designer.

Swindon musician Brendan said: “The impact of his workshops with human resources, heads of departments and strategy teams was very influential.

“I was proud of how effectively he engaged corporate people on the subject of dyslexia in the workplace and online services. He was humble but defiant in his approach and had a genuinely lasting impact on business strategy.”

Mike was also a member of Contemporary Artists of Swindon (CAOS) staging exhibitions throughout Swindon and as far afield as Singapore. Brendan added: “His work was striking and unusual.”

Father-of-three Mike moved to Devon 13 years ago with his then wife Liz where he continued to work with dyslexic people.

He died in Dawlish on Monday, December 2. He leaves a partner Annie Hyde. The funeral will take place at Torbay Crematorium, TQ2 7QG at 2pm on Monday, December 23 followed by a celebration of his life at The Strand Centre, Dawlish, EX7 9PT.