Jo Cox’s life was centred around helping people “from Batley to Burma and from the Spen Valley to Syria”, her sister has told crowds in her constituency this afternoon.
Hundreds of people gathered outside the town hall in Batley to remember their late MP, who was killed about four miles away in the village of Birstall.
Many were in tears as they watched Mrs Cox’s widower Brendan address the London memorial event on a large screen on what would have been his wife’s 42nd birthday.
After observing the minute’s silence, the MP’s younger sister, Kim Leadbeater, took to the stage to pay tribute to her “caring, compassionate and inspirational” sister.
Ms Leadbeater said: “On behalf of all Jo’s family, thank you from the bottom of our hearts to each and every person who has sent their love and sympathy to us in the last few days.
“We have been truly overwhelmed by the outpouring of kindness and support and it has provided great comfort and strength in order for us to keep going.”
She told the crowds: “From Batley to Burma and from the Spen Valley to Syria, Jo’s life was centred around helping people and standing up for the causes she felt passionate about – and there were many.”
She said: “I don’t have any answers as to why such a horrendous and tragic event has occurred in our lives but I do know that Jo would not have wanted any of us to allow it to make her life anything other than the force for good it always was.
“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 fight instead for inclusion, love and unity.”
The hundreds gathered in the market square watched some of the events in Trafalgar Square on the screen and also listened to tributes live on the stage as well as music from the choir of Norristhorpe Primary, in Liversedge.
In London Mrs Cox’s husband Brendan led the tributes during an emotion-charged celebration of her life, a short walk from Westminster where the Labour MP was this week due to return to work.
Mr Cox, who paused to collect himself during his eight-minute speech to the crowd at London’s Trafalgar Square, said: “Thank you for the love that you have poured on our family since our world collapsed on Thursday.
“Thank you to Jo’s amazing friends, and friends of friends, and even complete strangers who have managed, despite your own grief, to organise all of this in less than a week.
“As amazing and deeply touching as all of this is, I wish I wasn’t here today. Not because I’m ungrateful to the organisers and you all for coming, but because of course I’d rather be with Jo.
“But I wanted to come and show my gratitude and that of all of our family.
“Your support and love has helped us all and I wanted our children to see what their mum meant to all of you. I know that they will remember today.”