Sir David Amess: Southend bids farewell to MP with horse-drawn procession

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Sir David Amess: Southend bids farewell to MP with horse-drawn procession
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Mourners said their final farewell to “brilliant” Sir David Amess as his life was celebrated during a funeral service in Southend on Monday.

Locals lined the streets to pay their respects to the Tory MP who was stabbed to death on October 15 while holding a constituency surgery in Leigh-on-Sea.

The devout Catholic’s friend and colleague Mark Francois delivered a eulogy, praising Sir David’s service to his constituents and the sense of humour of the man he branded the “original Essex cheeky chappy”.

In comments that come shortly after Westminster was embroiled in a sleaze scandal, the Rayleigh and Wickford MP reminded politicians that “our electors employ us to represent them”, adding: “We work for them and not the other way around.”

The former minister said in his tribute that, despite the “awful tragedy” of Sir David’s death, the country should “keep calm and carry on” as that is “what he would have wanted us to do”.

The hearse passed through Southend for the MP’s final farewell (PA)
The hearse passed through Southend for the MP’s final farewell (PA)

Elsewhere, the family of the father-of-five called on Britons to “show kindness and love to all” as the memorial service began. Locals had lined the street of the newly-crowned city and applauded as a hearse carrying Sir David was driven to St Mary’s Church.

The funeral service, led by Reverend Paul Mackay and Rev Monsignor Kevin William Hale, took place strictly by invitation only.

After the church service, they carried the coffin to a horse-drawn hearse for a procession around Southend.

Hundreds of people gathered outside Southend’s Civic Centre to pay their respects as the hearse, led by four black horses, paused in front of it. Uniformed police officers bowed their heads as the hearse arrived and people applauded.

In an emotional statement, Sir David’s family said their “hearts are shattered” and asked people to “set aside their differences and show kindness and love to all”.

"This is the only way forward. Set aside hatred and work towards togetherness," said the family statement, read by the former MP Ann Widdecombe.

A private ecumenical funeral for MP Sir David Amess took  at St Mary’s Church in Prittlewell (PA Wire)
A private ecumenical funeral for MP Sir David Amess took at St Mary’s Church in Prittlewell (PA Wire)

"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.”

On Tuesday, a Requiem Mass will be held at Westminster Cathedral in London, where a message from the Pope is to be shared.

Ian Gilbert, leader of Southend Council, said Monday was an “incredibly emotional day” and that his family “understand there are many others in the city who knew and loved him”.

Pall bearers carry the coffin of Sir David Amess out of St Mary's Church in Prittlewell, Southend (PA)
Pall bearers carry the coffin of Sir David Amess out of St Mary's Church in Prittlewell, Southend (PA)

Sir David’s family have requested that, in lieu of flowers or other tributes, donations are made to the charities that he supported.

These include The Dog’s Trust, The Music Man Project, Prost8, Endometriosis UK, and the Dame Vera Lynn Memorial Statue.

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