Jo Cox: Heroes who showed the very best of humanity

Bernard Kenny.
Bernard Kenny.
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The hate-fuelled killing of Jo Cox brought with it tales of bravery that, one year on, still have the power to move.

Heroes from the day itself and the difficult time that followed include:

* Bernard Kenny, 77, who was stabbed in the chest as he courageously tried to go to the aid of Mrs Cox during Thomas Mair’s attack.

He underwent surgery at Leeds General Infirmary and had to be readmitted two weeks later following complications.

A victim statement read on behalf of Mr Kenny as Mair stood trial in November said: “What you did to me that Thursday afternoon not only threatened my life but changed me as a person and all those around me.”

Mr Kenny’s widely-praised actions received further recognition this week when he was awarded a medal by the Order of St John.

Jo Cox: A year on, the West Yorkshire village that refused to be defined by tragedy

* Mrs Cox’s office manager Fazila Aswat and senior caseworker Sandra Major also tried to intervene in the attack.

Describing the terrifying events outside Birstall Library, Ms Aswat told Mair’s trial: “I started swinging my handbag and he swiped his knife towards me several times – not necessarily to attack me but to get me away from Jo, because he wanted to get her again.”

And, reliving the ordeal after Mair left the scene, she said: “Jo was in my arms. It probably took about three or four minutes for the police and ambulance to arrive. But at that moment, it felt like a lifetime.”

* Unarmed police officers Craig Nicholls and Jonathan Wright apprehended Mair after spotting him in the street soon after the attack.

PC Nicholls and PC Wright swung into action when they saw the killer on Leeds Road and followed him into Risedale Avenue.

PC Nicholls later said: “As we started running towards him, he’s gone to put his hands down the front of his shirt. We rugby tackled him to the ground.”

They then handcuffed Mair, searched him and gave him first aid when they discovered he had suffered a head injury when he was stopped.

The officers received the Police Bravery Award at the West Yorkshire Policing Awards in May.

* People from Birstall and beyond did Mrs Cox proud after the attack, laying a sea of flowers around the statue of Joseph Priestley in the village’s market place.

Some shops temporarily closed as a mark of respect, with a note taped to a shutter at Haggarts Family Butchers saying: “Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and children. Rest in peace Jo xxxx.”

“I miss my sister Jo Cox every day. I will ensure her murder was not in vain”

* Mrs Cox’s sister, Kim Leadbeater, found the strength to address people gathered in Birstall as she viewed the floral tributes two days after the attack.

Struggling to keep her emotions in check, she said: “For now, our family is broken but it will mend in time and we will never let Jo leave our lives.

“She will live on through [her husband] Brendan, through us and through her truly wonderful children who will always know what an utterly amazing woman their mother was.”

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