'He had time for everyone': A former parliamentary assistant's tribute to Sir David Amess

Sir David Amess was always happy to be photographed with a dog

Following the fatal stabbing of Sir David Amess one of his former parliamentary assistants, Becky Paton, has taken to social media to write a heartfelt tribute to her former boss.

Sir David was stabbed while meeting constituents at Leigh-on-Sea in his Southend West constituency on Friday.

  • This is Becky's tribute to Sir David...

Seeing every photo being shared, he's always smiling, usually with a dog in tow, beautifully sums up the man.

He taught me lots about politics, but the most important thing he taught me was to start with kindness and the only thing that matters is how many people you help, everything else in politics is just ego.

Everyone's talked of his kindness this weekend, I can't add much, the cross-party tributes speak for themselves. Walking round Parliament with him was an exhausting affair, constantly stopping to say hello, he knew everyone, every MP and Lord, every Commons clerk, the kitchen staff, the door keepers. He'd been there so long he was able to point out people in Portcullis House and say 'I knew his dad back in the 80s'.

For constituents, he had time for everyone. No problem was too big or small. He was there to listen and help. He knew so many personally by name. He kept a list of all the constituents who'd thanked him for his help to send a handwritten Christmas card every year.

When making speeches in Westminster, he always made sure to pay tribute to whoever had brought the issue to his attention. Name-checking the constituent or campaigner personally in Parliament. I also had the perpetual task when writing speeches for Sir David to make sure that every speech, no matter what the topic, issue or campaign, could end with the immortal words '...And that's why Southend should become a city!'

So much has been made of his love of animals and campaigns for animal rights. It's the reason I went to work for him. He was about 20 years ahead of the crowd on opposing fox-hunting, and had done so much to improve legislation for all animals in this country. With half a dozen budgies and fish, his Westminster office was constant chorus.

Despite being reminded by officials for decades that animals were not allowed in Parliament, they remained. One day we came into the office to find Maggie the budgie had perished, he put her in a box and took her home on the train to Essex to be buried in his garden.

I'll never forgot the day spent on the phone to the Qatari Ambassador to negotiate whether David could bring back a rescue turtle from the country in his hand luggage.

Most of all, he had the most infectious sense of fun. There was so much laughter in his office. Decorations were serious business. We had to climb outside to put up an inflatable Santa over the balcony every year, one year it broke free and flew across Parliament Square. At Halloween, an animatic monster outside his office door loudly greeted anyone who passed the corridor. Cabinet Ministers were frequently startled as the zombie came to life and screamed 'mwahahaha' at them.

He had a school-boyish charm and loved a practical joke. On my first day, a bit overwhelmed, I came to my desk to find David had left an antique chamber pot as a welcoming present, chuckling to himself as he tried to convince me the all ladies toilets were out of order.

For Christmas, he bought and wrapped presents for my two cats. He got them Christmas stockings filled with weapons-grade catnip imported from China. They love them and are still playing with them two years later. Here's Marcus enjoying his just today, such a sweet legacy.

Marcus still enjoing his present from Sir David Amess Credit: Becky Paton

I've spent most of my short journalistic and campaigning career writing about the very worst MPs, those who use their position to hurt and abuse under the guise of public service. It has been a joy to finally be able to write about one of the very best.

RIP Sir David Amess