Final farewell: Hundreds line the streets for funeral of Sir David Amess

The front windows of the Blue Boar pub in Prittlewell, Essex, were decorated with flowers and a sign that read: “Sir David Amess, we wouldn’t be here without you.”

For 18 months, the owners of the pub were being so severely overcharged for business rates that they were running into debt and risking closure.

They contacted Sir David, their MP of almost a quarter of a century.

“Two days later my husband got a letter from the House of Commons, and within a week it was resolved, and we got the rates reduced,” said the pub’s landlady.

“Without him, I doubt we would have survived.”

Just across the street from the Blue Boar is St Mary’s Church, where on Monday the much-loved MP was laid to rest.

After a private service, hundreds of people turned up to pay their final respects to Sir David with a procession that went past several significant places in his constituency.

The MP had held the seat since 1997, and it seemed every person lining the streets had their own story about how he had directly helped them.

“Everyone has a photo with Sir David Amess,” Syd Moore, 51, said, wiping a tear from his eye as he stood with mourners.

“Everyone knew who he was and he really cared for the community, and he reached out to individuals in trouble and he took the time to write personal letters.”

A cortege followed the hearse along roads closed for the occasion …

Credit: David Rose for The Telegraph

…  with hundreds of people lining the streets to say a final farewell 

Credit: David Rose for The Telegraph

All sorts of uniforms were represented, from school children to Sea Scouts, and many had felt compelled to attend after their MP got his hands dirty to help with their issues.

Graham Ross, a 70-year-old retired engineer, contacted the MP after being denied a rabies vaccination by his chemist.

“David said that was ridiculous and got the ball moving for me,” he said.

Sir David placed a few calls, and managed to get Mr Ross a letter confirming he was eligible.

Within a day, he had the medication he needed.

Mr Ross waited outside the church to see Sir David’s coffin carried out, which was draped in a union flag and carried by pall bearers drawn from Southend Fire Service.

As it was placed into the horse-drawn hearse, the crowd gathered outside broke into a spontaneous round of applause.

A cortege followed the hearse along roads closed for the occasion, stopping at the town’s Civic Centre, where flags were flying at half-mast.

Drivers pulled over to the side of the road and got out of their cars to watch and pay their respects.

The carriage driver stepped down for a moment and addressed the crowd gathered there.

“On behalf of the family of David Amess, thank you very much,” he said. People either clapped or cried.

Inside the church, Mark Francois delivered a eulogy, praising the man he branded the “original Essex cheeky chappy”.

The Rayleigh and Wickford MP said: “Our electors employ us to represent them in a contract renewable every few years. We work for them and not the other way around, and no one was ever more conscious of that than David Amess.”

Former Conservative MP Ann Widdecombe, a friend of Sir David’s, read a statement on behalf of the Amess family – their pain still raw.

 “Our hearts are shattered,” it read.

“However, there was still so much David wanted to do – this we know from the events of the last few days.

Sir David Amess had held the seat since 1997

“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.”

The procession went on to Iveagh Hall, Leigh-on-Sea, where Sir David had his constituency office.

Here the crowds swelled even further, lining both sides of the street for a hundred yards or so.

Among them was Rachel Lichtenstein, 51, whose family came to the MP in an hour of need last year.

Ms Lichtenstein’s son shares a child with an American woman, and with the border closed, it suddenly became impossible for her son to go and visit.

“My son was in real trouble”, she said. “David went so above and beyond for us and wrote us this beautiful letter and really helped us as a family.”

Verina Weaver, 65, waited for the procession outside Iveagh Hall, which also houses the local Conservative clubhouse.

Inside the clubhouse there were dozens of letters and cards of condolence.

One was from the Prime Minister; another from the manager of a local supermarket.

The hall has a portrait of Sir David in a prominent position inside, painted by a local artist.

Tragically, it was due to be delivered to the MP on the day that he died, but the artist had transport issues and couldn’t make it to his surgery, so Sir David never saw the final portrait.

It portrays him looking serious, as if thinking deeply about the problems in Southend.

According to John Lamb, the chair of the Conservative Association here, said: “[David’s wife told me] that that’s his face when she tells him she’s done the shopping at Waitrose instead of Lidl”.

Speaking to constituents, it seemed as though the late MP had only one flaw.

“He always arrived 10 minutes late for everything,” said Roger Wever, husband of Verina, and a former councillor.

“[He was late] because he tried to pack so much into his day and never said no to anyone.”

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