Sir David Amess family pay tribute: ‘Our hearts are shattered’

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Portrait of David Amess MP at St Michael’s Church, Leigh-on-Sea,  (Getty Images)
Portrait of David Amess MP at St Michael’s Church, Leigh-on-Sea, (Getty Images)

The family of murdered MP Sir David Amess paid tribute to him on Sunday, saying they wanted his legacy to be people putting aside hatred and working towards love and togetherness.

Conservative Sir David, 69, who had been an MP since 1983, was meeting constituents at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, on Friday afternoon when he was stabbed multiple times.

Ali Harbi Ali, 25, was arrested at the scene in Essex on suspicion of Sir David’s murder.

He has been detained under section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000 and is in custody at a London police station.

In a statement released by the Metropolitan Police, Sir David’s family said they would like to thank everyone for the “wonderful, wonderful” tributes paid following “his cruel and violent death”.

They said: “It truly has brought us so much comfort. The support shown by friends, constituents and the general public alike has been so overwhelming. As a family it has given us strength.

“We have realised from tributes paid that there was far, far more to David than even we, those closest to him, knew.

MP Mark Francois after laying flowers for Sir David Amess at Belfairs Methodist Church (PA)
MP Mark Francois after laying flowers for Sir David Amess at Belfairs Methodist Church (PA)

“We are enormously proud of him. 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. There are so many to mention, so find one close to your hearts and help.”

Sir David’s wife Julia Arnold, who worked part-time as his caseworker and their five children, said he had recently joined a campaign to help raise funds for a memorial to Dame Vera Lynn.

“To him she epitomised the strength and courage of our nation,” they said.

“We would ask as many people as possible to support this and meet the target to complete the project.

“Closer to home, David was working hard for Southend to gain city status. In his memory, please show your support for this campaign.

Religious leaders from Southend mosques lay flowers near Belfairs Methodist Church (PA)
Religious leaders from Southend mosques lay flowers near Belfairs Methodist Church (PA)

“Strong and courageous is an appropriate way to describe David. He was a patriot and a man of peace.

“So, we ask 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.

“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.”

Dozens of mourners attended a special service in memory of Sir David Amess, while several fellow MPs added to floral tributes amassed outside the church where he was stabbed to death.

People light candles during a vigil at St Michael’s & All Angels church in Leigh-on-Sea in Essex for Conservative MP Sir David Amess (Kirsty O’Connor/PA) (PA Wire)
People light candles during a vigil at St Michael’s & All Angels church in Leigh-on-Sea in Essex for Conservative MP Sir David Amess (Kirsty O’Connor/PA) (PA Wire)

Residents gathered at St Michael’s and All Angels church on Sunday afternoon to pay their respects and share their memories of Sir David, who was a devout Catholic.

Reverend Tom Loh said many passers-by came into the church, which is opposite the late Southend West MP’s constituency office in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, on Friday when news of the attack spread, to “shed tears and light a candle”.

Several mourners were invited to step to the front of the church, where a photo of Sir David was placed, throughout the service to share stories about him.

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