A MEMORIAL bench in Lyme Regis for well-loved man Ken Walton is one step closer to becoming a reality thanks to a huge community fundraising effort.

The target fund of £900 for the bench has now almost been reached and comes after the community in Lyme rallied round to raise funds back in May.

Mr Walton was found dead on Monmouth Beach on April 19 next to his boat the Mudlark by deputy harbourmaster Mike Higgs.

Floral tributes were left on Mr Walton’s boat, now situated close to the harbour and the Cobb.

The Volunteer Inn in Broad Street, often referred to as Mr Walton’s favourite pub, has also displayed a ukulele which he used to play.

Back in May, pub manager Ben Walker encouraged all those who knew Mr Walton to give what they could for a memorial bench situated near the Cobb.

He has spoken to West Dorset District Council about the bench and was told the total cost for a bench and plaque is £900.

Mr Walker added: “The great news now is that we are almost at the fundraising total.

“We have raised £340 in the pub, together with someone who has pledged to donate £100 and another person who has promised £200.

“This brings us to £640, and Ken’s family have said they are planning to sell Ken’s boat and once they do will give us the extra money we need. This is brilliant news and I want to say a massive thank-you to everyone who has donated so far.

“First of all we thought of a collection for some flowers for Ken’s funeral, which was held in Southampton on May 14.

But then the idea got bigger and we thought a memorial bench for Ken would be perfect.

“He was such a big presence in the Lyme Regis community and his death left the whole community completely in shock.

“It would be great to have something to remember him by in the town.”

A funeral wake was also held at the pub on May 10 in memory of Mr Walton.

Those still wanting to donate can give their donations to Ben at the Volunteer Inn, to deputy harbourmaster Mike Higgs or telephone the pub on 01297 442214.