Funeral and horse-drawn hearse procession to be held for David Amess

, Funeral and horse-drawn hearse procession to be held for David Amess, The Today News USA

Sir David Amess is being laid to rest at a funeral in his beloved Southend today – as Boris Johnson marked the moment by recalling how ministers ‘broke down’ when he told them of their colleague’s death. 

Members of the public gave a quiet round of applause as pallbearers from the local Sea Scouts and RAF cadets carried the MP’s Union flag-draped coffin into St Mary’s Church on a bright, crisp autumn day.  

Sir David’s friend and colleague Mark Francois will deliver the eulogy, while Anne Widdecombe will read a statement from his family calling on Britons to ‘set aside their differences and show kindness to all’. 

After the service, local firefighters will place his coffin onto a horse-drawn hearse that will carry the casket on a procession through Southend.   

It is due to pause outside Southend’s Civic Centre and again outside Sir David’s Southend West constituency office, Iveagh Hall, before returning to the chapel of rest.  

Father-of-five Sir David, a devout Catholic, was stabbed to death while holding a constituency surgery at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea on October 15.

Today, Boris Johnson recalled how he was in the middle of a cabinet away day in Bristol when he learned of  the tragedy, and that when he told colleagues several ‘broke down’. 

He told BBC Radio Essex: ‘I think he inspired feelings of affection, love and admiration for the causes he espoused.’  

, Funeral and horse-drawn hearse procession to be held for David Amess, The Today News USA

, Funeral and horse-drawn hearse procession to be held for David Amess, The Today News USA

Mourners arrive at St Mary’s Church in Prittlewell, Southend, ahead of Sir David’s funeral service this afternoon. The church is Anglican but will host an ecumenical service 

, Funeral and horse-drawn hearse procession to be held for David Amess, The Today News USA

, Funeral and horse-drawn hearse procession to be held for David Amess, The Today News USA

Mourners filed into St Mary’s Church through the churchyard on a fine autumn day with plenty of sunshine 

, Funeral and horse-drawn hearse procession to be held for David Amess, The Today News USA

, Funeral and horse-drawn hearse procession to be held for David Amess, The Today News USA

The funeral service inside St Mary’s Church is by invitation early, but will be followed by a horse-drawn carriage procession through Southend 

, Funeral and horse-drawn hearse procession to be held for David Amess, The Today News USA

, Funeral and horse-drawn hearse procession to be held for David Amess, The Today News USA

A standard bearer walks through the churchyard of St Mary’s Church in Prittlewell, Southend, as family and friends queue outside 

Paying tribute to Sir David, Boris Johnson said the event would help mourners reflect on his ‘amazing contribution’ to his constituents.

The Prime Minister added: ‘He was a guy who campaigned about things he really cared for… He showed what you can achieve as an MP to change lives of people up and down the country and he will be much, much missed.’

Today’s funeral service, led by Reverend Paul Mackay and Rev Monsignor Kevin William Hale, is strictly by invitation only, although it will be broadcast live on local radio. Hymns will include The King of love my Shepherd is, by John Rutter.

Mr Gilbert said people can pay their respects to Sir David by lining the streets as the hearse passes and by writing in the book of condolence at the Civic Centre before it closes at 7pm. 

Sir David Amess’s friend and colleague Mark Francois – who will deliver the eulogy – said he had ‘mixed emotions’ today, saying: ‘We’d all rather David was still with us.

‘But this has been an opportunity for the whole of the community of Southend to come together and to pay their respects.

, Funeral and horse-drawn hearse procession to be held for David Amess, The Today News USA

, Funeral and horse-drawn hearse procession to be held for David Amess, The Today News USA

Sir David Amess had been holding a constituency surgery in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, last month

‘I genuinely believe David was loved in Southend and this is a chance for the people of what will now be that city to express their sympathy with Lady Julia and the family.’

Mr Francois said Lady Julia ‘deliberately wanted to have two services’ for Sir David.

‘She wanted to have one in Southend so that the town could grieve and pay its respects,’ he said.

‘And then because David was a staunch Catholic, his faith was immensely important to him, as were his family and his constituents, there will be a full requiem mass at Westminster Cathedral tomorrow.’ 

Choirs will sing before and during the service – the Southend Boys’ and Girls’ Choirs, Leigh Orpheus Male Voice Choir and St Mary’s Church Choir. 

The veteran MP’s friend, former Conservative MP Ann Widdecombe, is to read a statement on behalf of the Amess family. 

The family will say in the statement: ‘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. We are enormously proud of him.’ 

The family will say, in the statement read by Miss Widdecombe: ‘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.’

, Funeral and horse-drawn hearse procession to be held for David Amess, The Today News USA

Sir David’s family will ask people to ‘set aside their differences and show kindness and love to all’, in their statement, to be read at his funeral service.

The statement says: ‘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.’  

, Funeral and horse-drawn hearse procession to be held for David Amess, The Today News USA

, Funeral and horse-drawn hearse procession to be held for David Amess, The Today News USA

A private ecumenical funeral for MP Sir David Amess is to take place in his Southend West constituency

, Funeral and horse-drawn hearse procession to be held for David Amess, The Today News USA

, Funeral and horse-drawn hearse procession to be held for David Amess, The Today News USA

Sir David with (from left) daughter Katie, wife Julia and other daughters Flo, Sarah and Alex at Flo’s wedding in August. On October 15, the veteran MP was pronounced dead at the scene

Tomorrow, a requiem mass will be held at Westminster Cathedral in London, where a message from the Pope is to be shared.

In an earlier interview, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told BBC Essex that several of his Cabinet colleagues broke down in tears when they learned of Sir David’s death.

Mr Johnson had been on a Cabinet away day when he was told the news.

‘Everybody was absolutely devastated,’ he told the broadcaster. We were all sitting around. I then got called out and got given the news.

‘I had to go back in to tell Cabinet colleagues, many of whom had known David for decades, and I’m afraid several colleagues broke down in tears because it was just an appalling piece of news.

‘I think we were also very shaken by the implications of what had happened, and the fact his life had been tragically ended in the way that it was.’

Remembering her friend on a radio interview before the the service, Ann Widdecombe said he ‘always had a smile’ and was ‘always interested in people’. 

‘Most MPs look pretty miserable most of the time because they’re tired, or worried about something,’ she said. 

‘But David always had a smile and not just for his own side. He would spend hours speaking to people.

‘If you went for a meal and the waiter came over that waiter would not be able to take the order because he’d speak to them for so long.

‘He was just so interested in people.’

She also recalled the moment Sir David put forward an early day motion in the Commons congratulating her for a performance on Strictly Come Dancing. 

‘I was the first politician to do it and a lot of people were terribly opposed to it and thought it wasn’t dignified, but he thought it was hilarious,’ she said. 

‘He loved the theatrical, tradition and ceremony.’

, Funeral and horse-drawn hearse procession to be held for David Amess, The Today News USA

, Funeral and horse-drawn hearse procession to be held for David Amess, The Today News USA

Ali Harbi Ali, 25, is charged with murdering the Conservative MP for Southend West last month 

, Funeral and horse-drawn hearse procession to be held for David Amess, The Today News USA

, Funeral and horse-drawn hearse procession to be held for David Amess, The Today News USA

Forensic officers at the scene near the Belfairs Methodist Church in Essex on October 15

, Funeral and horse-drawn hearse procession to be held for David Amess, The Today News USA

, Funeral and horse-drawn hearse procession to be held for David Amess, The Today News USA

People look at flowers left by the police cordon near Belfairs Methodist Church on October 17

The alleged terrorist accused of fatally stabbing Sir David will enter pleas next month at the Old Bailey ahead of a potential trial in March next year.

Ali Harbi Ali is charged with murdering the Conservative MP for Southend West during a constituency surgery in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, on October 15.

The 25-year-old British defendant, who is in custody, is also charged with preparing acts of terrorism between May 1, 2019 and September this year.

Ian Gilbert, leader of Southend Council, said today would be an ‘incredibly emotional day’.

He said that Sir David’s family ‘understand there are many others in the city who knew and loved him’, and have agreed for the service to be broadcast on local radio station BBC Essex.

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.