David Amess: Southend holds silence to mark one week since murder

‘He was just a man of Southend’ locals tells Thomas Kingsley as they pause to remember much-loved MP

Friday 22 October 2021 22:18
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<p>The community fell silent at midday for Sir David Amess</p>

The community fell silent at midday for Sir David Amess

Southend held a two-minute silence remembering Sir David Amess one week since he was killed at a constituency surgery shortly after midday last Friday, in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex.

Local businesses stopped trading at midday joining residents along Eastwood Road North, minutes from where the MP was killed.

James Duddridge, MP for Rochford and Southend East led the tributes to his former colleague urging the community to come together and not be afraid to “cry and share a cuddle and share stories”.

“Share your stories with me, the clergy, the mayor, as we try to make sense of what happened and in some small way maybe bring something good of this,” Mr Duddridge told the crowd.

Southend was granted city status in honour of Sir David, who had lobbied for the title for more than 20 years.

Local parish priest FatherJeff Woolnough, who attempted to administer last rites to Sir David said the community was still “absorbing shock”.

Father Jeff Woolnough asked to administer last rites to Sir David

“When it starts to hit you and the significance of this horrific thing is ripe, it’s making us all feel sick to the pits still,” he said.

“We have to work out how we move forward but David’s legacy is one of openness, community and breaking down some of those ghastly barriers. That’s the hope I’ve got,” he told The Independent.

Local businesses also mourning Sir David remembered an MP who was a regular face that loved Southend and championed local business. Dean Cadywoud recalled Sir David Amess coming to the opening of his fancy dress store on Eastwood Road North earlier this year. Sir David was also known for his annual “best shop window” competition where he would give certificates to the best decorated businesses on the street.

Dean Cadywoud said Sir David was always around

“It’s gone right across the country – it’s hit everybody,” Mr Cadywoud said. “He was always around, you’d always see him up here. He’s always around the businesses, he wrote to my son to take him to the House of Commons.”

Leigh-On-Sea residents said the entire community was in a “depression” since Sir David’s killing, saying the MP was irreplaceable.

“We’re totally devastated,” said local resident, Julia. “We’ll never be able to replace him. I still can’t believe it, I can’t think of anything else. It’s just awful.”

She added: “He was amazing; he was there at every event, he’d always be there – he was just a man of Southend. He loved the place and the people.”

“David was Southend,” local resident Sylvia Andrews said. She recalled how Sir David visited a local dog show where a woman with Down Syndrome invited him to her birthday party.

Sylvia Andrews said the incident was an ‘absolute disaster’ for Southend

“He turned up at her birthday party and she was thrilled. He was just a people person, I don’t think we’ll ever replace him,” she added.

Ali Harbi Ali, 25, was charged with the murder of Sir David Amess and also the preparation of terrorist acts

He appeard in court on Friday by video-link from high security Belmarsh prison, and is expected to face trial in March.

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