HEARTFELT community tributes have been paid to a man who collapsed on Lyme Regis beach last week.

The elderly man, named locally as Albert Aleshin, was airlifted to Dorset County Hospital on the afternoon of Wednesday, July 23, but sadly later died in hospital.

The incident happened just before 4pm during the town's busy Lifeboat Week.

Albert, believed to be a holidaymaker and Russian professor, was spotted in difficulties in the shallow water on main beach.

Hundreds of people were cleared from the beach to allow the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance to land.

A spokesperson for South West Ambulance Service said the elderly man was brought back to shore after getting into difficulties.

Crowds gathered to try and help him, including Swedish couple Gunilla and Alan Emneby and 21-year-old Lyme resident Jack Turner, who helped pull him from the sea and attempted to save his life.

Town crier Alan Vian said thanks must be given to the emergency services and the efforts of the whole Lyme Regis community, who did 'everything they could' to try and save Albert.

He added: “Everybody in Lyme responded together; he stood the best possible chance of survival because of the help he got, and everything that could have been done for him was done.

“It has been said to me that the reaction of the Lyme community during the sad time was exemplary, with co-operation from so many including Lyme Regis Town Council, the RNLI Guild and coastguards, the emergency services and members of the public.

“My thoughts are with his family at this time, particularly because he was on holiday in Lyme and his family were with him on holiday when this happened.

“It's always much more difficult when people are away from their home and in a different town, but Lyme welcomes everybody as its own.”

Richard Horobin, volunteer press officer for the RNLI in Lyme Regis, added that everyone was deeply shocked and saddened at the tragic event.

He said: “We extend our sympathy to family members and all concerned.”

Lyme Regis town councillor Mark Gage added: “It's always a tragedy when something like this happens; my thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.”