A COMMUNITY has been left shocked and saddened following the death of a well-loved man who was found dead on a West Dorset beach.

The man, named locally as boat owner Ken Walton, was discovered on Monmouth Beach on Saturday next to his boat the Mudlark by deputy harbourmaster Mike Higgs.

Floral tributes have been left on Mr Walton’s boat close to Lyme Regis Harbour and the historic Cobb.

The Volunteer Inn on Broad Street – often referred to as Mr Walton’s favourite pub – have also displayed a ukulele he used to play behind the bar in his memory.

Manager of the Volunteer Inn, Ben Walker said: “The whole community here is in shock, I saw Ken pretty much every day and we looked out for him.

“He entertained everyone at the pub and also used to come in and look after the fire for us; in return we gave him free coffee.

“Whenever visitors came to the town he would be the first to get to know them and the same tourists would return six months later and enquire about him.”

A memorial drink event is also set to take place at the pub in memory of Mr Walton.

Town resident and friend of Mr Walton, Dave Lloyd, referred to him as a ‘real character with an eccentric personality’.

He added: “Ken was always up for a laugh and loved having a fun time.” Percy Peadon, The Cobb Arms bar manager, told of his shock at hearing the news.

He said: “Ken was a brilliant man and there aren’t many businesses in Lyme that he didn’t go in.

“People in the town certainly thought a lot of him.”

Murray Saunders, a friend of Mr Walton, said everybody who knew the popular man was stunned by the news.

He said: “Ken was ex-RNLI in Southampton and was very well-known.

“It happened very suddenly and everyone is pretty upset about it.”

Deputy harbourmaster Mike Higgs, who found the body, said Mr Walton’s death was ‘totally unexpected’.

It is not yet known what caused Mr Walton’s death.

Dorset Police have confirmed they are not treating it as suspicious.