David Amess funeral: Family call for country to ‘set hatred aside and work together’ as Southend mourns MP

Members of the public line the streets as coffin, draped in union flag, carried on procession through Southend by horse-drawn cart

Chiara Giordano
Monday 22 November 2021 18:12
<p>A funeral service has been held for Southend MP Sir David Amess in Essex</p>

A funeral service has been held for Southend MP Sir David Amess in Essex

Sir David Amess’s family called for the country to “set aside hatred and work together” as mourners gathered in Southend to pay their respects to the late MP.

A funeral service took place at St Mary’s Church in Prittlewell followed by a procession through the streets of his Southend West constituency.

The father-of-five was stabbed to death while holding a constituency surgery at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea on 15 October.

Bells tolled as Sir David’s coffin, draped in a union flag, was brought to the St Mary’s churchyard entrance in a hearse.

Pall bearers from Southend Fire Service carried the coffin the short distance to the church as they were saluted by members of 3rd Chalkwell Sea Scouts and members of the public who lined the streets broke into spontaneous applause.

Sir David’s friend and colleague Mark Francois delivered a eulogy at Monday’s private ecumenical service, while former Conservative MP Ann Widdecombe, also a friend of the veteran MP, read a statement on behalf of the Amess family, who said their “hearts are shattered” but they are “enormously proud” of him.

The family 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,” their statement said.

“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.

Members outside Sir David’s constituency office at Iveagh Hall, in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex

“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.”

During his tribute to Sir David, friend and fellow Essex MP Mark Francois said the killed politician had "won in the end" after his campaign for Southend to be made a city found posthumous success.

Mr Francois, the MP for Rayleigh and Wickford, told mourners at St Mary's Church: "He put Basildon firmly on the map and he worked tirelessly for Southend. In the end, I think his constituents loved him for it.

"Just look at the turnout here today in this beautiful house of God, which, before long, will form part of the city of Southend – forever.

"So, he won in the end. Some would say, including me, that David was a bit of a legend really."

The father-of-five was stabbed to death while holding a constituency surgery at Belfairs Methodist Church

The former minister also recalled how Sir David, a devout Catholic, had helped break the world record for the most centenarians at one lunch during an event in Southend, recorded an album with Bananarama, and had a boiled sweet blessed by the Pope.

Following the funeral service, pall bearers carried Sir David's 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, with members of the public breaking into applause.

The hearse will return to the chapel of rest before a Requiem Mass is held at Westminster Cathedral in London on Tuesday, where a message from the Pope is to be shared.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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