‘Southend is in mourning’
Baptist minister Steve Tinning has spoken of the impact of David Amess’s murder on Southend, and his own relationship with the MP, with whom he worked on numerous issues
Sir David was fatally stabbed during his constituency surgery at Belfairs Methodist Church on Friday, 15 October.
‘I feel that Southend is in mourning,’ said Steve, associate minister of Leigh Road Baptist Church. ‘Everybody had met David – he just made himself so accessible. He was very present.
‘He was a warm, compassionate and dedicated servant to Southend. His death, and the manner of it, is truly heart-breaking.’
Steve, who is also our Union's Public Issues Enabler, had worked closely with the MP in recent years. Five years ago Leigh Road offered a flat to a Syrian family. The family longed to be reunited with their son, who they had been separated from during the war. Steve worked alongside David to liaise with the Home Office and build a case to have them reunited, which eventually happened earlier this year. He described David’s commitment to the Muslim community of Southend as ‘extraordinary’.
More generally Steve’s active campaigning for refugee rights (he has worked closely with the charity Safe Passage) has brought him into contact with David on many occasions.
‘Whenever I was campaigning in London, David would always make time for me at his Westminster office, and would listen to me. Despite being an ardent Brexiteer, he signed an amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill, to ensure child refugees have a legal route to sanctuary to the UK.
‘I probably met with him over a dozen issues,’ he continued. ‘We didn’t always agree on the politics, but as a human being he was every bit as friendly to his opponents as his friends. He really understood the nature of being a servant, in front of his own political ambition.’
Much has been written and spoken of the MP’s Catholic faith. Steve said that David was always supportive of community leaders, and had particularly high regard for faith leaders, in part because of this faith. He had regularly attended Leigh Road Baptist Church for ministerial inductions and departures, and other events. Steve has a photo of him opening a church eco fair a couple of years ago (pictured), while his MP surgeries were frequently held in local churches, including at Leigh Road in July and West Leigh Baptist Church in August.
His last visit at Leigh Road was for a fundraising event in September, where he was asking what he could do to help. He also won a raffle prize at the event. ‘I’d been waiting to present it to him,’ said Steve. ‘It was a piece by a local artist, and would have really suited his Westminster office, which had an eclectic range of art! I still have the ticket with his name on the back.’
‘David was a man of deep faith and conviction,’ Steve added. ‘I will miss him very much.’
Top image | Sir David Amess MP at Leigh Road Baptist Church, Southend