FORMER Taunton Deane Mayor Ken Hayward has died aged 60.

Mr Hayward, a Conservative district councillor for two terms, was elected Mayor four years after being voted into Deane House.

As first citizen, he completed 560 engagements from opening fetes to travelling to Buckingham Palace. He and his wife, Mary, enjoyed supporting worthy causes across the borough.

Mr Hayward was dedicated to the community of Norton Fitzwarren, where he lived, chairing the pre-school and as a parish councillor, serving as chairman and attending meetings until recently.

His parish projects included the Vilberie Close children's centre, the purchase of the allotment site, stone seats for the Hill Fort viewing area and chairing meetings about the dam and the re-development of the former Taunton Cider complex.

He was key to saving the village club, calling a public meeting and setting up a management committee in 1999, eventually turning it into the thriving community centre it is today.

Mr Hayward was born in Taunton in November 1957, the youngest of six children, although one sister died in infancy.

The family lived on a farm in Brompton Ralph before moving to Trull.

He attended Wellington School, where he met lifelong friend Shaun Chafey, who introduced him to Mary.

The couple were engaged within three weeks and married in February 1979, setting up home in Wellington.

Mr Hayward worked as a trainee time and motion officer with Somerset County Council, obtaining a similar post with Kirkcaldy District Council, Scotland, in 1980.

The couple had two sons, Bradley and William, and returned to Somerset in 1984, when Mr Hayward worked for Relyon, and living in Norton Fitzwarren.

He later became a self-employed health and safety consultant and enjoyed spending time with grandchildren Evelyn and Nerissa.

He enjoyed 'lads breaks', walking the Pennine Way and completing cycling trips, including Land's End to John o'Groats and Central and Eastern Europe.

He was diagnosed with oesaphageal cancer in February 2017 and underwent six rounds of chemotherapy before doctors said they could do no more.

During this time, the couple renewed their vows and to travel, cruising the western Mediterranean and visiting the Canary Islands.

Mr Hayward spent time in St Margaret's Hospice before returning home, where he passed away peacefully on Saturday, surrounded by family and close friends.

Current Taunton Deane Mayor Cllr Catherine Herbert said: “Ken was a great colleague.

"He was always looking for ways to help and support the community.

"His dedication to Norton Fitzwarren was at the heart of all his time on the council and he served his ward well.

"Ken was always open to ideas and would partake in lively debate.

"As Mayor he represented our borough exceptionally well with his wife Mary at his side.

"I am honoured to have known this kind, thoughtful and dedicated man. He will be sorely missed.”

Mrs Hayward expressed her gratitude to everyone for their support during her husband's illness.

A private family cremation will be followed by a service in celebration of his life at All Saints on Monday (July 16) at 11.30am.