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Jo Cox described to churchgoers as '21st century Good Samaritan'

Published 19/06/2016

Jo Cox died after being shot and stabbed in the street outside her constituency surgery in Birstall
Jo Cox died after being shot and stabbed in the street outside her constituency surgery in Birstall

Jo Cox was a "21st century Good Samaritan", churchgoers have been told in the village where she was killed.

The Rev Paul Knight told a congregation at St Peter's Church in the West Yorkshire community that the 41-year-old MP was "someone with whom Jesus would have been so pleased".

He said: "Her humanity was powerful and compelling and we would do well to recognise her as an amazing example - a 21st century Good Samaritan."

Mr Knight said: "Jo was someone who went out of her way to help others.

"I regret to say I didn't know what she was like as a girl but she grew into a fervent advocate for the poor and oppressed.

"And though she must have been angry at times about what she saw here and around the world - those places she visited and worked - she seemed to me, at least, to be one who could fight with a passion and a disarming smile."

Mr Knight was speaking as Mrs Cox's husband Brendan tweeted: " Jo loved camping. Last night the kids & I camped in her memory& remembered the last time we were all woken by the dawn chorus #MoreInCommon"

Prayers were said at St Peter's for Mr Cox and the couple's two young children.

Mr Knight also remembered the bravery of pensioner Bernard Kenny, 77, who remains in hospital after he was injured coming to Mrs Cox's aid outside Birstall library on Thursday.

After reading the story of the Good Samaritan from the Bible, the vicar said: "There is much wickedness in our world. But thank God there is so much goodness - goodness that does not recognise colour, not nationality."

The memorial service comes after Mrs Cox's sister called for people to show "strength and solidarity" in the wake of her death

Kim Leadbeater told crowds gathered in Birstall on Saturday that they should "focus on that which unites us and not which divides us" as part of her sister's legacy.

Ms Leadbeater, parents Gordon and Jean Leadbeater, and other family members viewed the hundreds of floral tributes and messages left to the Batley and Spen MP since her death on Thursday.

They embraced as they looked at the flowers in Birstall marketplace, metres away from where she was shot and stabbed in the street outside her constituency surgery.

A memorial fund to raise money for charities Mrs Cox supported has reached more than £620,000, with donations from over 20,000 people.

The charities, chosen by Mrs Cox's friends and family, represent her campaigns as an MP to help civilians caught up in the Syrian war, to fight racism and extremism in Britain, and to help residents in her Batley and Spen constituency in West Yorkshire.

Meanwhile, a petition set up calling for Mr Kenny to be given the bravery honour the George Medal, has garnered close to 500 supporters.

He remains in hospital in a stable condition.

A 52-year-old man who appeared at Westminster Magistrates' Court in London on Saturday over the killing gave his name as "Death to traitors, freedom for Britain".

Thomas Mair, from Birstall, is charged with murder, grievous bodily harm, possession of a firearm with intent to commit an indictable offence and possession of a knife.

Asked whether he would back proposals being circulated on social media for a statue of Mrs Cox at Westminster, Chancellor George Osborne told ITV1's Peston on Sunday: "I think it is very much for the family to guide us in this. I hope there will be a memorial, not just to her tragic death but to her incredible life.

"I think what we've seen in the last couple of days is not just the nation mourning the manner of her death but celebrating what she achieved in her short life.

"The fact that you see people giving money to the fund that's been set up to support the charities that she supported I think is wonderful. It's the kind of Britain that we don't talk about enough - a Britain that is very generous and open-hearted."

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