DOZENS of people gathered to take part in a touching tribute to a community stalwart.

Crowds gathered outside Burnham’s Tesco Express Store on Sunday to give speeches and release doves in memory of Beverley O’Connor.

Beverley, 55, died at her home in Blackwater Close in the early hours of June 9. Her death is not being treated as suspicious.

The ceremony was attended by residents, fellow staff members and representatives from the town council, including mayor Wendy Stamp.

A council spokesman said: “Doves were released in memory of Beverley O’Connor, whose tragic death has had a deep effect on many in the town.

“Mayor Wendy Stamp delivered a tearful speech about Bev’s generosity, wit and ‘naughty humour’, which was followed by two more emotional speeches.

“Then children who had been helped by Bev or who were close to her, were given doves to hold and then release.

“The birds flew up over Station Road and Remembrance Avenue, with a squadron peeling off to fly over Tesco, as if in a fly-past, before homing to their roosts.”

As the doves were released, the crowd simply said: “For Bev.”

Mrs Stamp said the atmosphere was very respectful and reflective.

In her speech, she said: “We all know how much Bev contributed to our rich community, not only through fundraising for good causes but her smile, truthfulness, honesty and, my personal favourite, her wicked sense of fun and naughtiness.

“Dearest Beverley, you are greatly admired, greatly loved and will be greatly missed.

“Burnham will not be the same without you.

“You are one in a million.”

Other tributes included a word from pirate impersonator Melo, who usually portrays Captain Jack Sparrow at Burnham’s Quay Day.

He said: “It is with deep sorrow that I find myself writing this message in remembrance of a very special lady.

“She was such a bubbly character with a wonderfully bright smile.

“Every year, I would look forward to meeting her and giving her a big hug before we started Quay Day.

“She was such a big part of Quay Day for me and I will always remember her awesome big red hair.

“I remember one time when I arrived at the store – she was very busy with a crowd of shoppers, but she still managed to pull herself away and welcome me with a huge hug.

“My thoughts and love to Beverley’s family and friends.”