UPDATED: Tributes pour in for local clergyman found dead on Portland beach

Reverend Wilfred Westlake

The beach near Portland Castle where Mr Westlake's body was found

First published in News
Last updated

TRIBUTES have poured in for a Catholic clergyman whose body was found on a Portland beach.

Reverend Wilfred Westlake, a deacon at St Joseph's Church in Weymouth, was described as 'genuine, kind and caring'.

Dorset Police said they were called to a report of a man's body being found on a beach close to Portland Castle at 7.23am yesterday (Thurs) morning. The death is not being treated as suspicious.

Next of kin and the coroner have been informed.

The man has been named locally as the Reverend Wilfred Westlake, MBE, who was in his 70s.

He retired last year - and parishioners organised a party to mark the occasion - but Mr Westlake had recently been helping out the parish priest with duties in the Weymouth and Portland parish of Our Lady, Star of the Sea.

Fred Coates, 75, from Portland has been best friends with Mr Westlake for more than 50 years.

They first met when they were in the Naval Provost on Portland, before working out in Singapore for three years from 1965-68 - Mr Coates in the fleet mail office and Mr Westlake again as provost.

It was in Singapore that Mr Westlake met his future wife Joan, who passed away a few years ago.

Mr Coates and Mr Westlake both worked on different ships at different times out of Portland, after moving back and in the 70s they worked at Boscawen Sailing Centre together.

Mr Coates said there wasn't a week in the last ten years the friends hadn't seen each other and had always kept in touch.

He said: “He was just a nice, genuine sort of bloke and he was a good mate.

“He'd do anything for you. He was a genuine sort of person.”

Hilda Swinney is a parishioner at St Joseph's, and Mr Westlake used to administer communion to her once a week as she could not get to church.

She said: “He was a very caring man - a very human person.”

Father John Rice of Dorchester said Mr Westlake served at Holy Trinity in Dorchester from 2005 until 2008, before moving to St Joseph's in Weymouth.

He said Mr Westlake also did 'sterling work' in both Dorchester and Verne prisons and described him as a dedicated chaplain.

Father Rice said: “He was a very caring and loving chap and looked after the people, particularly the sick and elderly, he was very good with them.”

He added: “He was a really good example of what ministry is all about.”

Mr Westlake is survived by his step-children and grandchildren.

Comments (2)

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8:26pm Fri 5 Sep 14

grenouille says...

Re: Reverend Wilf Westlake
Just like to offer my condolences to all his friends and old shipmates as he will be sadly missed. I have known Wilf from 1980 and found him to be a real tonic and a great help for people in need - deeply shocked by his untimely death. Having moved out of the area in 2003 I lost contact with him but rest in the knowledge that he is now with the Lord - God rest his soul.
Sincere wishes Pete Oldham
Re: Reverend Wilf Westlake Just like to offer my condolences to all his friends and old shipmates as he will be sadly missed. I have known Wilf from 1980 and found him to be a real tonic and a great help for people in need - deeply shocked by his untimely death. Having moved out of the area in 2003 I lost contact with him but rest in the knowledge that he is now with the Lord - God rest his soul. Sincere wishes Pete Oldham grenouille
  • Score: 18

11:58am Sun 7 Sep 14

lynchcove says...

Sleep well Wilf. A great man who as Master at Arms in charge of the Royal Naval sailing centre at Boscowan in the early 80's gave local kids the chance to help out and spend our time messing around in boats during the summer holidays. The skills I learned there have done me well in life. Thanks for the opportunity Wilf. Jez Rees.
Sleep well Wilf. A great man who as Master at Arms in charge of the Royal Naval sailing centre at Boscowan in the early 80's gave local kids the chance to help out and spend our time messing around in boats during the summer holidays. The skills I learned there have done me well in life. Thanks for the opportunity Wilf. Jez Rees. lynchcove
  • Score: 5
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