Dozens of people have gathered at a vigil for murdered Conservative MP Sir David Amess, who has been remembered as ‘Mr Southend.’

The service was held at St Peter’s Church in Eastwood Lane in Leigh-on-Sea, just down the road from where Sir David was stabbed to death at his local constituency surgery.

A man, 25, was arrested on suspicion of murder at the church where Sir David was killed.

Counter-terrorism police will lead an investigation as officers ‘keep an open mind’ on the case.

Around 80 mourners attended the vigil, which was led by Father Jeffrey Woolnough.

He described the liturgy as one that he ‘did not expect to be leading today.’

The church fell silent as he invited the politician’s constituents to remember him for his ‘happy smile’.

He said: ‘The whole world grieves. In this Mass we pray for the repose of the soul of dear David.’

Father Woolnough continued: ‘Have you ever known Sir David Amess without that happy smile on his face? Because the greeting he would always give you was always that happy smile.

‘He carried with him that great east London spirit of having no fear and being able to talk to people and the level they’re at. Not all politicians I would say are good at that.’

The priest shared memories of Sir David, telling a story about the first time he met him at Southend High School for boys around 2006.

He said he started a conversation with the MP without realising who he was and praised his approachability.

‘When you can speak to your MP and you can talk and get on like a house on fire, that’s when you can talk to them later about things that are important to your area,’ he said.

People at the service were told the area could always ‘count on’ Sir David.

Father Woolnough said: ‘What happened to Sir David today, what can we say?

‘But he died doing the thing he loved, meeting his constituents, his local people.

‘We thank God for his life and that great gift that he was able to share himself with the people of Southend and to bring his ideas to the table.

‘He was always available. He showed me a great deal of respect and love.’

Those who attended were invited to light a candle and share their own memories of Sir David.

A lone candle placed outside the church burned as locals honoured him.

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