Fellow MP Paula tells of 'shock and devastation'

Fellow MP Paula tells of 'shock and devastation'

MP Paula Sherriff is still struggling to come to terms with the death of her friend Jo Cox.

In one of her first media interviews since the tragedy, she told how staff in her office go from periods of relative calm to floods of tears.

Miss Sherriff (Lab, Dewsbury and Mirfield) attended Wednesday’s birthday memorial for Mrs Cox in Batley.

She said of last Thursday: “It was utter shock. And I’m still shocked. I’m not sure if it’s sunk in if I’m honest.

“When I got that phone call, and I play it back in my head, and was told Jo’s been shot, I was absolutely devastated.”

She added: “How do you compute in your mind that there is so much hate in the world?

“And I cannot conceive of how somebody could have so much hatred of somebody like Jo.

“We owe it to Jo to continue her legacy in every sense, locally, nationally and internationally.

“And we must fight extremism in all its forms, whether it be the far right or any other form of extremism.”

Wednesday’s birthday memorial was compered by Paul Taylor of the Royal Voluntary Service, one of the charities benefiting from fundraising.

A choir from Norristhorpe Junior and Infants sang Ain’t No Mountain High Enough and Love Shine A Light.

Upper Batley High School headeacher Sam Vickers and pupils Mohammed Raja and Bilal Khan spoke.

Tributes were also paid by Batley, Purlwell and Hanging Heaton priest Rev Mark Umpleby and Moulana Shokat of the Medina Mosque in Batley.

The Batley Community Choir sang and then announced the recording of a charity single.

Kim Leadbeater finished the event by asking people to sign “moment of action” pledge cards in her sister’s memory.

She told the crowd: “Think of an action you can take that would make a positive difference to someone’s life.”

One ready to take up the baton is Leilah Nolan, who came from Birkenshaw with six-year-old daughter Ella.

Leilah recently moved back to the area from Pudsey and did not know Mrs Cox was her MP, but having heard of her work now wants to do more.

She also brought toy unicorns to pass on to Mrs Cox’s two children, Cuillin and Lejla.

Leilah, formerly of Gomersal and Batley, said: “Just listening about Jo has made me want to do more for other people.

“I’d like to be less selfish and get into volunteering and doing other things that can make a difference.”

Coun Shabir Pandor (Lab, Batley West) said: “It’s quite clear that Jo’s death is not the end.

“Her legacy will continue, and events across the world show there is a lot of good in the world.

“It’s like Jo said, there’s more that unites us than divides us, and we should take that by the horns and put it into practice.”

He praised the turnout from all walks of life and said: “That’s what humanity is about. Humanity is about diversity, differences, tolerance and sharing.”

Fiaz Rashid, director of projects at the Pakistan and Kashmir Welfare Association on Manor Way, Batley, also hailed the crowds.

He said: “That demonstrates we have a lot in common and we must continue to celebrate that.”

Mr Rashid added: “It was an incredible event. The people of this area showed they will stand together against bigotry and hatred.”

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