'I keep replaying it in my head, it’s devastating'
One of the last people to see Sir David Amess alive says his final words to her were to wish her family well and to “hang in there” during a “gloomy” time.
Leah Pepper had been at the constituency surgery in Leigh-on-Sea minutes before he was fatally stabbed to discuss an ongoing housing issue.
Sir David was “just his normal, thoughtful self” on Friday, she told ITV News, and his death still doesn’t feel “real.”
“He was just getting up and going to work and doing his job for the people,” she added.
“I just didn’t think it was real at first, with the phones going with all the news updates. It just didn’t seem real, even now I keep replaying it in my head, it’s devastating.
“I keep on thinking about how he was when the man came in… how awful that must have been.”
In Southend, those Sir David Amess helped recalled his kindness, compassion and faith - they've been speaking to ITV News Correspondent Dan Rivers
Like many of his constituents, Ms Pepper thought of her MP as a “helpful man” and said he was “very respected.”
He had helped her family “a few times” before and he “really cared”, she said, having sat with Sir David numerous times about her housing problem.
"Basically his last words were just that things look gloomy but to hang in there, wishing my family well and my mum, he was just his normal, thoughtful self," she added.
David Garston, a local Conservative councillor, said he was an “irreplaceable” constituency MP whose approachability left him “vulnerable.”
“He was probably one of the best constituency MPs in the country, and because he was so accessible and because he was everywhere, he obviously left himself vulnerable and didn’t think twice about it,” Mr Garston said.
The councillor said that when Sir David came to his ward, “you couldn’t get very far because he’d stop every hundred yards to talk to somebody.”
Their words reflected an outpouring of tributes from people in Southend, many of whom were in a state of shock but full of praise for the MP who had been so suddenly taken from them.
Lorraine Migliorini said Sir David was a lovely guy who always urged her to “leave the Sir out” - a personable and charming man.
Steve Nayland, a former local councillor, said everyone liked Sir David regardless of their political leanings.