Sir David Amess was stabbed to death while holding a constituency surgery at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea on October 15. Mourners gathered today to pay their respects to the late MP
Image: Stephen Lock / i-Images)
Mourners gathered in Southend today to pay their respects to the late Sir David Amess.
A memorial funeral is taking place at St Mary’s Church in Prittlewell near Southend this afternoon ahead of a service at Westminster Cathedral tomorrow.
Sir David’s coffin was draped in a UK flag and three police officers on motorbikes led the hearse.
Members of the public clapped as pall bearers from Southend Fire Service carried the murdered MP’s coffin into the church, Essex Live reports.
Following the 1pm service, a horse-drawn hearse will carry the casket on a procession through Southend.
The father-of-five, who was stabbed to death while holding a constituency surgery at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea on October 15, was a devout Catholic.
Sir David’s family said in a statement read by Ann Widdecombe: “Our hearts are shattered.
“However, there was still so much David wanted to do – this we know from the events of the last few days. So, this is not the end of Sir David Amess MP.
“It is the next chapter and, as a family, we ask everyone to support the many charities he worked with.”
The MP’s family also asked people to “set aside their differences and show kindness and love to all”.
They said in a statement: “This is the only way forward. Set aside hatred and work towards togetherness.
“Whatever one’s race, religious or political beliefs, be tolerant and try to understand.
“As a family, we are trying to understand why this awful thing has occurred.
“Nobody should die in that way. Nobody. Please let some good come from this tragedy.
“We are absolutely broken, but we will survive and carry on for the sake of a wonderful and inspiring man.
“We ask at this time that the family’s privacy be respected so that we can grieve in private.”
This morning, Mark Francois, MP for Rayleigh and Wickford and close friend of Sir David, said when he arrived at the church: “I think today is an opportunity for the people of Southend to come together as a community to express their grief and sorrow for the loss of Sir David.
“The family have been greatly consoled from the outpouring of sympathy. He was my best friend in parliament.
“We were very close and if I’m honest, today is very emotional for me but I hope when I do my eulogy I will do justice.
“He was my friend but also a loving husband, father and fine parliamentarian. One of the privileges of knowing him was you never knew what he was going to do next.”
Olivia Sanders, the mayor of Brentwood, said: “It’s a huge honour and privilege to come to this service and celebrate the life of sir David and all the good he did for Southend.
“He did too much to list, he had left a huge legacy that will carry on his name for a long time.
“Southend and the people of Southend were his life and for the town that he loved so much to finally be a city would have meant the world.
“He was someone who was such a great constituency MP, he was so funny and witty and incredibly kind.”
Ian Gilbert, leader of Southend Council, said Monday would be an “incredibly emotional day”.
On Tuesday, a Requiem Mass will be held at Westminster Cathedral in London, where a message from the Pope is to be shared.
In an earlier interview, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told BBC Essex that several of his Cabinet colleagues broke down in tears when they learned of Sir David’s death.
Mr Johnson had been on a Cabinet away day when he was told the news.
He told the broadcaster: “Everybody was absolutely devastated. We were all sitting around. I then got called out and got given the news.
“I had to go back in to tell Cabinet colleagues, many of whom had known David for decades, and I’m afraid several colleagues broke down in tears because it was just an appalling piece of news.
“I think we were also very shaken by the implications of what had happened, and the fact his life had been tragically ended in the way that it was.”