Outpouring of love

THOUSANDS of people around the world celebrated what would have been Jo Cox’s 42nd birthday on Wednesday.

Batley joined a list of cities including London, New York, Sydney, Brussels, Dublin and Nairobi.

In Trafalgar Square in London there were tributes from U2 singer Bono, actors Gillian Anderson and Bill Nighy and the humanitarian Malala Yousafzai. Pop star Lily Allen sang while broadcaster Mariella Frostrup, a friend of Mrs Cox, compered.

Dignitaries present included Lily Caprani, the deputy executive director of Unicef. Bristol trip-hop group Portishead made a video tribute and are to release a cover of Abba’s SOS as a charity single.

Fighting back tears in front of a packed crowd, Brendan Cox said of his wife’s death: “It was an act of terror designed to advance hatred towards others. What a beautiful irony it is that an act designed to advance hatred has in fact instead generated such an outpouring of love.

“Jo’s life is proof that a message of peace is more powerful than any weapon of war. Once again the extremists have failed.”

In Batley Market Place a crowd of about 2,000 gathered, from all races, religions and backgrounds.

Watched by parents Gordon and Jean, Mrs Cox’s sister Kim Leadbeater said: “From Batley to Burma and the Spen Valley to Syria, Jo’s life was centred around helping people and standing up for the causes she felt so passionately about.

“My sister would want her murder to mobilise people, to get on with things, to try to make a positive difference in whatever way we can, to come together and unite against hate and division and to fight instead for inclusion, love and unity. In Jo’s honour, and on behalf of her grieving family, I urge you to please do so.”

She finished by blowing a kiss to the crowd.

Present at the Batley event were Labour MPs Paula Sherriff (Dewsbury and Mirfield), Rachel Reeves and Dan Jarvis.

In New York, hundreds gathered near the UN building to hear Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the UN, read a statement from President Barack Obama.

“Jo knew that our politics at its best still works,” he said. “If we recognise our humanity in each other we can advance social justice, human dignity and the peace that we seek in the world.”

Former Prime Minister of Australia Kevin Rudd urged followers on Twitter to support Jo Cox’s legacy by donating to the campaign which has already raised £1.3m in her memory.

In Edinburgh, about 100 people gathered on Portobello beach with candles spelling out the phrase “more in common” pressed into the sand.

Jo Cox’s two young children, Cuillin and Lejla, were at the Trafalgar Square event with their father. Their day began at the family’s home on a barge on the Thames, where a community dinghy named Yorkshire Rose was carpeted with 1,000 roses.

Mr Cox and his children travelled up the river to Westminster, where the dinghy will be moored for a week.

He added: “We try to remember not how cruelly she was taken from us, but how unbelieveably lucky we were to have her in our lives for so long. I hope that everyone will understand that after this event it will be time for me and all our family to grieve in private.”

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