The family of Sir David Amess praised the murdered MP as a “wonderful and inspiring man” on Sunday as they issued a powerful plea: “Please let some good come from this tragedy.”
“As a family, we are trying to understand why this awful thing has occurred,” they said in a statement. “Nobody should die in that way. Nobody.”
It came as dozens of mourners attended a special service in memory of the Southend West MP, who was stabbed to death at a constituency surgery on Friday.
“The support shown by friends, constituents and the general public alike has been so overwhelming,” the statement said. “As a family it has given us strength.”
Residents gathered at St Michael’s and All Angels church on Sunday afternoon to pay their respects and share their memories of Sir David, a devout Catholic.
Reverend Tom Loh said many passers-by had come into the church 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.
In their statement, the family thanked the public “for the wonderful, wonderful tributes paid” to the backbench Conservative MP “following his cruel and violent death”.
The family also asked people to back Sir David’s long-running campaign to gain Southend city status.
Home secretary Priti Patel said bestowing the title of city on the seaside town would be a “wonderful tribute” to the MP’s 38 years of service, with Commons speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle also rallying behind the idea.
Southend is one of several towns competing for city status as part of the Queen’s platinum jubilee celebrations in 2022, with Sir David a driving force behind the local campaign, having pushed for the recognition for at least two decades.
In an interview with BBC Essex the day before he died, Sir David said: “If the House of Commons wants to shut me up from being the city bore, then they are going to have to grant it to us. I've spent all my time mentioning it at every conceivable opportunity. It is a no brainer. The benefits are enormous frankly.”
The statement continued:
We have realised from tributes paid that there was far, far more to David than even we, those closest to him, knew.
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.
David 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. 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.
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.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies