Community group plans lasting tribute to Sir David Amess MP

A community group supported by the late Sir David Amess MP is creating a memory garden in gratitude for the years of dedicated support it received from him.

Leigh-based Blade Education is a not-for-profit organization formed 16 years ago to work within the community on a number of projects.

It tackles social issues, promotes heritage and “combats disadvantage through art, education and information”.

The group particularly focusses on bringing together younger and older generations and had the full backing of Sir David, who was killed last week.

The group most recently worked on the HMS Leigh project, the name given to Southend Pier for the crucial part it played in the Second World War when it became the Guardian of the Thames.

The community-led heritage and arts project was open to the public in September, enabling people to explore the history of Southend Pier with a memory garden displaying pictures of the people and events around Southend Pier from 1939 to 1945.

Sir David didn’t hesitate to support the project and now Blade Education is including him in a memory garden on the pier.

Beth Hooper, creative director of Blade Education, said: “What we were trying to do with HMS Leigh was to bring the story of the Second World War to Southend.

“That was the last time we saw him.

“Part of that was a memory garden which we want to turn into a Sir David Amess memory garden.

“Whenever we had a project that we were working on around Southend Sir David would always come to help us. He came to everything and was always a very positive influence.

“He was with us with the HMS Leigh project in September. That project was tied to the Royal British Legion and he was there participating.

“He was very supportive of our ideals in trying to bring the community together.”

Ms Hooper added that Sir David was always quick to support projects and often worked closely with the group, showing a keen interest in young people in the borough.

She said: “One of our projects was getting children to make 9,000 poppies.

“That was wonderful when he was there supporting that.

“He was very interested in supporting children. He was an all round community MP.

“We relied on him and he was very reliable.

“He was one of those MPs you could rely on to turn up to support your project and move it forward.

“We will really miss that.”

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter