A COMMUNITY is in shock after learning of the death of Burton Bradstock vicar Bob Thorn, whose body was found washed up in Seatown on Monday.

Portland Coastguard received reports of a small rowing boat that had been washed ashore on Seatown Beach which sparked a large scale multi-agency search was launched by Portland Coastguard.

Coastguard teams from West Bay, Lyme Regis, Exmouth and Beer and all were tasked with carrying out a shoreline search of their areas.

The RNLI lifeboat from Lyme Regis, both RNLI lifeboats from Exmouth and the Independent lifeboat from Sidmouth were also launched and the Portland rescue helicopter was also scrambled.

After hours of searching, the Rev Thorn’s body was discovered by West Bay officers in East Ebb Cove at the base of the cliffs below Thorncombe Beacon.

A spokesman for the team said: “Due to the difficult terrain and location, rescue helicopter 106 assisted with the recovery of the deceased and all teams were then stood down to return to station.

“Our thoughts are with the persons family and friends at this most difficult time.”

The news of the death of the ‘larger-than-life’ vicar was greeted with shock. The vicar was on a three-month sabbatical and planned a retreat in Cornwall.

Bridport Rector the Rev Andrew Evans said: “Obviously when the news came it was devastating. We are all very sorry both for him and for his wife Jean.

“He was a larger than life character, a hugely spiritual man.

“He was hugely respected and well liked. Our thoughts and prayers go to Jean and to his mum and the wider family.”

Councillor Ron Coatsworth said: “He was obviously an important person and I am sure we will all regret his passing.

“It will be a great shock to the village. People like that do have an effect on the life of the village.”

Former parish council chairman Mike Southgate said: “He was a very straightforward person and down to earth, warm person.

“He was a deep thinking man and had clear views on social welfare.

“Everybody will be thoroughly shocked. He was a man very much for the people.”

Burton Bradstock Hive Beach Café owner Steve Attrill said: “The church is in the heart of the community and I am just shocked.

“He did quite a few different things with the school.”

Village correspondent for the Bride Valley News Ian Wigglesworth said: “It’s obviously a great shock. He will be sorely missed.”

The last time he wrote for the Bride Valley News in March he said: “I do ask for your prayers, please, for the fortitude of God being with me, to be strong and of good courage.”

The Right Revd Nicholas Holtam, Bishop of Salisbury, has made a statement on the death of the Revd Bob Thorn.

Bishop Nicholas said: “I was devastated to learn of the death of the Revd Bob Thorn, Rector of the Bride Valley Benefice, in a rowing accident yesterday.

“Bob was a remarkable man of incredible determination. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Jean, who is also a priest and with whom he shared much of his ministry, and with his children.

“Funeral arrangements will be announced in due course.”