TRIBUTES have poured in for a community stalwart who died suddenly, aged just 38.

Maldon Festival manager Kieran Sampson died of a cerebral haemorrhage in his own home.

He was found collapsed on the living room floor by partner Colin Baldy, who had been ill in bed with the flu.

Kieran was instrumental in setting up the Maldon Festival in 2008 and concert-goers were used to seeing him running around behind the scenes.

Kieran was also a founder of the choir of St Mary’s and had recently sung with them in Coventry Cathedral.

He died on February 27. His funeral was held in St Mary’s Church, Maldon.

The venue was packed and the funeral featured some of Kieran’s favourite music, from Muse’s Explorers to Samuel Barber’s famous Adagio sung by the choir.

The service also included Noel Coward’s Mad Dogs and Englishmen, performed by Daniel Norman and Gulliver Ralston, to reflect Kieran’s love of his partner’s cabaret act.

Mr Baldy said: “We first met in 2007 and had known each other for nearly 12 years. His sudden death was totally unexpected and has left the entire community in a sense of shock.

“What I didn’t realise was how well-loved he was in the community. It was absolutely packed and it was clear just how popular and appreciated he was in Maldon.

“Kieran was a massive Doctor Who fan, and his coffin was a Tardis, which brought a few smiles to people’s faces.

“Another of Kieran’s musical loves was the music of Bach. During the service pianist Christopher Weston, a Maldon Festival favourite, played the first prelude of Bach’s 48 preludes and fugues.” Mr Baldy added: “He was the sweetest, gentlest, kindest, most caring and most loving person I ever met.

“His concern for others, and for their problems, was immense. I know that there are quite a few people here who were touched by his care and compassion.”

Donations in memory of Kieran were made to the Pseudo Obstruction Research Trust. He had raised £2,500 for the trust by running the Brighton Marathon.

On Good Friday , the Choir of St Mary’s, accompanied by Pegasus Baroque Orchestra, will perform Bach’s St John Passion in memory of Kieran at St Mary’s Church, in Church Street.

Any profits will go towards setting up a choral scholarship to support young singers in the choir.