Leeds & West Yorkshire

Jo Cox: Community gathers to bid farewell to 'irreplaceable' MP

Jo Cox funeral mourners Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Emotions ran high for some mourners as they paid their respects to their MP Jo Cox in Batley Market Place

"She had a unique capacity to make everyone she met feel very special."

Such a sentiment was echoed repeatedly by some of the hundreds of mourners who gathered in Batley to say their last goodbyes to MP Jo Cox.

It was a chance for the West Yorkshire community she fought on behalf of to stand united in respect and gratitude.

Almost a month has passed since the Batley and Spen MP was shot and stabbed outside a constituency surgery she was holding in Birstall, near Leeds.

But the public turnout on the day of her funeral was proof her presence has not been forgotten - people determined the legacy of a "remarkable" woman should live on.

Image copyright Alex Moss
Image caption 'We will not ever forget her' - Naseem Saeed

Naseem Saeed was among those crammed into the town's historic Market Place to await the arrival of the funeral cortege.

"Jo was the one who really stood out in the crowd," said the 46-year-old.

"She was inspirational and everything she represented and fought to achieve will live on in people's hearts and minds.

"We will not, and should not, ever forget her."

Friday is normally a quiet market day in Batley, but as the morning progressed, the crowds gathered.

People of all ages stood either silently reflecting or quietly swapping stories about their encounters with the mother-of-two.

In between gentle sobs, Janet Leeson, 80, recalled her memories of the 41-year-old.

"She only met me once and she remembered my name. That was Jo. She really cared about people and it was so wonderful seeing her out and about with this bubbly smile and personality.

"It was very important I came today to say my goodbyes."

Image copyright Alex Moss
Image caption 'Her smile touched my heart' - Waris Abbasi (centre) pictured with his mother Nasneem and brother Hashim

Seven-year-old Waris Abbasi said he would remember the MP for her smile and for making him buy Fairtrade bananas.

Clutching a white Yorkshire rose in her memory, the youngster said: "She came to our school to take part in a Fairtrade event and spoke to us about how important it was to try and help others.

"She was a really lovely person and her smile touched my heart."

His mum Nazneem followed up her son's tribute, explaining how Mrs Cox's influence meant "we now only buy Fairtrade items in our house."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Crowds applauded the funeral car has it passed through the town
Image copyright Brendan Cox
Image caption A memorial fund set up by Jo's husband and friends has raised nearly £1.5m for organisations she supported

When asked about her thoughts Bernadette Smith, 56, simply stated: "Jo was the best MP we ever had. "

Shortly after 11:00 BST, silence descended on the town as the funeral cortege approached.

But as the hearse carrying Mrs Cox came into view the hush was punctuated by applause.

Following behind were her husband Brendan, their two children and other close family.

The sight of the couple's young daughter sat protectively on her father's knee as she waved to the crowds prompted emotional responses from the crowds.

Image copyright Alex Moss
Image caption 'She fought tooth and nail for us' - sisters Maureen Chapel and Dorothy Donaghy

As the cortege continued on to the private family service, people stood hugging each other, wiping their tears and absorbing the enormity of the community's loss.

Sisters Maureen Chapel, 63 and Dorothy Donaghy, 65, said: "She fought tooth and nail for our community."

Mrs Chapel added: "It didn't matter what colour skin you had, what your religious views were, whether you were rich or poor. Jo treated everyone the same."

Asked how hard it would be to replace Mrs Cox as an MP, Peter Rock replied: "It's not hard. It's impossible."

More on this story