Kayaker Keith Kirkum died after being hit by lightning

Keith Kirkum
Image caption Keith Kirkum took up kayaking about six months ago

A kayaker died when he suffered a cardiac arrest as he was struck by lightning off the Essex coast, an inquest has heard.

The body of Keith Kirkum, 59, of Burnham-on-Crouch, Essex, was found on a beach in Bradwell on 7 August 2012.

An inquest into his death, at Chelmsford, heard his heart failed as a result of the electric shock.

Essex and Thurrock Coroner Caroline Beasley-Murray recorded a verdict of accidental death.

'Soul mate'

Image caption Keith Kirkum's cousin Howard (left) and partner Charlotte Kelly were at the inquest

Mr Kirkum's partner of 25 years Charlotte Kelly, 61, said however, she would still like to know exactly what happened.

"The loss of Keith to me is more important than anything else," she said. "He was an absolute soul mate."

She said Mr Kirkham was an experienced kayaker and enjoyed spending time paddling alone.

The hearing was told how there had been a squall off the coast at the time Mr Kirkum had been out on the water.

Mr Kirkum's cousin Howard travelled from Jersey to attend the inquest.

He said: "He was like a big brother. I just can't even take it in, even now."

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