TRUE Yorkshire grit, determination in the face of adversity and a desire and will to help others as best she could.
Murdered MP Jo Cox is a woman who will be remembered, not for the way she died, but for the way she lived.
From her humanitarian efforts across the globe, to her two children and a lasting legacy of peace, unity and community, she truly has touched many people’s lives.
“In her own words, Jo was ‘a proud Yorkshire lass’ and we are a proud Yorkshire family,” said her sister Kim Leadbeater, who picked up the Yorkshire Rose on her behalf at the Yorkshire Women of Achievement Awards.
“Like most women from our region Jo was strong, passionate and totally committed to everything she did. It is a privilege to be part of such a special day, and to celebrate the wonderful women of Yorkshire.”
The list of Jo’s achievements is a long one. A stellar academic career, rising through the ranks of Oxfam to become head of policy and advocacy, and returning to her hometown as MP of Batley and Spen. But there is more to the list, her sister says, as she recalls the strength, kindness and caring of a “remarkable” woman who strived to help others.
“That’s how we were brought up,” said Kim. “To think about others first. That’s how mum and dad lived their lives.”
There was Jo’s volunteering work as a student and her early years with Oxfam, travelling to communities in Thailand, South East Asia and Borneo, witnessing unseen levels of poverty in South Africa, and working with children in Bosnia and Croatia. Her passions were fighting poverty, equal rights, and care. She was involved in the charity’s strategy dealing with political cohesion in Israel and the Gaza strip, highlighting humanitarian aid in Darfur and Sudan. She overcame adversity to get there, Kim says, and it was her strength of character which continued to shine through.
“Jo had a difficult time at Cambridge University,” she said. “It was a different world. For a northern, working class girl, from a small Yorkshire town, it was a very intimidating place. But this is where Jo’s strength of character was evident, she never gave up, she dug in, with northern grit and Yorkshire determination, and succeeded. Everything she did was driven by helping other people. “The years of voluntary and humanitarian work, nobody was surprised by that. And when she went into politics, the motivation was the same - to make a difference. To help other people.
“She firmly believed that if you’ve got the strength to make a difference, you should use it.
“Her greatest achievement, without a shadow of a doubt, is her children.
“They are so like Jo, they have her same energy, positivity and zest for life. They are just a small part of the legacy that Jo will leave.”