Tributes to Sir David Amess as Southend marks one year since 'senseless' murder

A tree planting ceremony has been held today in honour of Sir David Amess, who was stabbed to death one year ago Credit: PA

Leading politicians have paid tribute to Sir David Amess as a ceremony was held in his constituency to mark the first anniversary of his murder.

Sir David, who was an MP for nearly 40 years, was stabbed during a constituency surgery at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, on October 15, 2021.

Liz Truss and Sir Keir Starmer paid tribute to him today as a tree was planted in his memory in Southend.

The Prime Minister tweeted a statement along with Sir David's parliamentary portrait on Saturday morning.

She wrote: "On the anniversary of Sir David Amess' death, we cherish his memory and remember his enormous contribution to politics, to the people of Southend and to the country.

"My thoughts today are with his wife Julia, the Amess family and to all those who knew and loved him."

Labour leader Sir Keir wrote on Twitter: "Remembering our friend & colleague David Amess, on the 1st anniversary of his senseless death.

"David's commitment to public service, carried out with inherent, consistent kindness, will forever be admired. Thinking of his wife & children, hoping memories of him bring comfort."

The emotional tree planting ceremony took place at Chalkwell Park in Southend at 11am on Saturday.

A plaque on the tree read: "Set hatred aside and work towards togetherness."

Flowers were placed at the foot of the newly-planted tree Credit: ITV Anglia

Southend-on-Sea council said it had been planted using compost from flowers left across the area in the days and weeks following the MP's death.

Councillors, MPs and local faith leaders attended, while Southend Mayor Kevin Robinson made a speech on behalf of the local community, and an ensemble from the Southend Band performed.

Stephen George, leader of the council, said: "A kind family man, Sir David was devoted to his local constituency of Southend West and was the greatest champion of Southend-on-Sea and local area."

Mr Robinson said: "Whilst we reflect on the awful and tragic events of October 15, 2021, we must also be thankful for the life that Sir David lived and the many lives that he touched and changed both locally and beyond.

"Southend-on-Sea would not be a city with the continued commitment of Sir David to make it happen, and as the first freeman of the city of Southend-on-Sea, he will always be the most important part of our history as a city."

Sir David's replacement, Anna Firth, said the city status had been a huge boost to the area and a bid for City of Culture was now being considered.

The 69-year-old, who had campaigned to make Southend-on-Sea a city and was posthumously made the first freeman of the new city, had served Southend West since 1997, and Basildon before that since 1983.

Ali Harbi Ali, 26, who attacked the veteran MP in a warped retaliation against politicians who voted to bomb Syria, was handed a whole-life prison term in April this year after a trial at the Old Bailey.