TOUCHING tributes have been paid to a swimmer who died in the sea off West Bay.

Father-of-five Ed Matts, 59, died during an early morning swim off West Beach on Monday.

His family have described Mr Matts as someone who was ‘full of energy, enthusiastic and had a love of life’.

Bridport and Lyme Regis News:

Ed Matts would have turned 60 in June (family picture)

Economics expert Mr Matts, who lived locally, was a company director.

He also had a keen interest in politics and had previously stood as a Conservative candidate in the general election in South Dorset and also in Oxfordshire. In South Dorset, he was beaten by Labour’s Jim Knight in the 2005 election.

Police said the alarm was first raised at 7.30am on Monday following concerns for the welfare of a man in the water.

Bridport and Lyme Regis News:

The incident saw a major emergency response at the harbour, (Dorset Council image, above), including, police, paramedics, coastguards, RNLI lifeboats, firefighters and two rescue helicopters - as efforts were made to try and save Mr Matts.

But sadly, he was pronounced dead at the scene. Read our story from earlier in the week here.

The circumstances surrounding his death, which is not being treated as suspicious, are now a matter for the coroner.

Mr Matts’ family and friends are now trying to come to terms with his sudden death.

Bridport and Lyme Regis News:

Ed Matts with his mum Libby (family picture)

His former wife Chantelle said: “Ed was full of energy, enthusiastic and had a love of life. He would bound into a room and he would talk to everyone. He loved sport. He liked running and particularly playing tennis and loved early morning swimming. The only sport he struggled with was skiing because he didn’t like looking over the mountain edges as it scared him, but we went skiing as a family and he gave it a go anyway!”

Chantelle added: “He was a very likeable and charming man. He was extremely intelligent. He loved wine, proper coffee, and gathering his family around. Tea and cake was a loved tradition in the Matts family!

“He is survived by his five children, Beccie, Olly, Edward, Vienna and Jenson, who love him dearly. He will be so greatly missed.”

Bridport and Lyme Regis News:

Ed Matts with his children Jenson, Edward, Olly, Beccie and Vienna (family picture)

Mr Matts loved swimming and the sea.

Fellow swimmer Eddy Pearce said: “He was a regular part of our little morning gang and I genuinely can’t think of a single swim where he wasn’t smiling, and didn’t have a real skip and a spring in his step as he entered and left the water.”

Mayor of Bridport Ian Bark said: “I was shocked and deeply saddened to hear of this incident and on behalf of the community my sympathy and condolences go to the family of the man who has died. I would also like to thank the emergency services for their efforts to avert this tragedy.”

He added: “We do not know the circumstances and it would not be appropriate to comment further at this time, except – out of respect for the bereaved – to ask people not to engage in public speculation.”