CLASSMATES and staff at Heckmondwike Grammar School have told of their love for Jo Cox.
And the admiration cuts across the political divide, with two Tories leading the tributes.
Coun David Hall (Con, Liversedge & Gomersal) was a classmate from age 11 to 18.
He joked he knew the Conservatives faced a tough general election battle as soon as Mrs Cox was selected to contest the Batley & Spen seat for Labour in 2014.
Kirkees Council opposition leader Coun Hall said: “I had a sneaky smile that they had picked the right person because I knew she would work hard and I knew she was rooted in the area.”
Of their time at school together Coun Hall said: “She was the model student. She was funny, attractive, sporty and had a good brain which got her to Cambridge University.
“She was always popular, and was voted head girl by her peers when we were in the sixth form – she was the kind of person everyone liked. She studied hard for her exams. She was always getting top marks. In virtually all the subjects you could guarantee she would be in the top three of whatever exams she took.”
Fellow Conservative Itrat Ali, who stood in Huddersfield at the last general election, walked to and from school with Mrs Cox every day.
Last Friday she posted on Twitter: “The sun did rise this morning but it’s still dark in Batley and Spen a town mourning the loss of their champion #JoCox.”
She said of their time at school: “She was really fun-loving and she was so good at everything – sport, drama, debating – but you couldn’t hate her for it.
“She was just genuinely talented and always very confident. She brought out the best in everyone.”
By coincidence, Mrs Cox was taught geography by Philip Kenny – the son of Bernard Kenny, who intervened to try to save her life last week.
A statement from Heckmondwike Grammar said she was remembered as a popular pupil with a glittering future.
It added: “Just last year she visited the school, calling in to the classrooms of some of her former teachers and joyfully reminiscing with them about her time with us, and then generously giving her time to engage in discussion with sixth form politics students.
“The school is proud of Jo and her contribution to local and national democracy, to which she brought passion and commitment, and of her determined, caring campaigning for the world’s disadvantaged.
“She fully embodied and exemplified the school’s values and we consider her a shining example for the students who have followed her. She was one of us.
“The intensity and depth of her compassion, her profound sense of service to others, and the vigorous way she pursued her conviction for the things that really matter, marked her out.”