I first met Mike when I worked for the NHS in Public Mental Health and was looking for ways to strategically embed the arts in my work across North Lancashire and Cumbria. I’d heard about him on the grapevine and was thrilled when he agreed to be part of a steering group up that I sat on, that was planning an arts and health conference in Carlise in 2001. It seemed we were very different creatures, me all nervy and on the brink of histrionics and Mike - well - consistently calm, considered and so, so gentle. The conference was sold out and he was a great hit. Having been closely involved in the recent planning and completion of the Angel of the North in Gateshead, Mike had a certain mainstream arts cachet too!
Imploring us to share something of the spiritus mundi, Mike framed much of his presentation in David Byrne’s ‘slow dawning insight about creation,’ that 'context is everything.' Urging us to consider Bevan’s collective commitment to social habits and offering the best we can give to society, he subverted the context of health and safety from authoritative and risk-averse control, to caring for each other. His own work illustrated perfectly how investing in children and young people reaps dividends in generational change, not least in creating young researchers who inform new ways of thinking, being and doing.