Penshaw holds Great Get Together to remember murdered MP Jo Cox

Dozens of people gathered to celebrate the life of murdered MP Jo Cox in Penshaw today.

Sunday, 18th June 2017, 4:18 pm
Updated Monday, 19th June 2017, 11:58 am
The Penshaw Great Get Together.

The party at Penshaw Community Centre was one of tens of thousands of events held nationwide to mark the first anniversary of her death.

Bollywood dancers, a drum workshop and a children's magician were among the attractions.

Claire Rowntree is mum at the The Penshaw Great Get Together.

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Claire Rowntree is vice-chairman of the community association: "The whole idea is to bring people together, so people can share their experiences.

"Hopefully it will be the beginning of future events of a similar nature."

Today's event was funded from Sunderland City Council community Chest fund and ward councillor Geoff Walker said the news lately had highlighted the need for people to come together.

"It is very important that we promote a sense of community," he said.

Claire Rowntree is mum at the The Penshaw Great Get Together.

"In the last few weeks, with terrorist attacks and the Grenfell Tower fire, we have seen the community coming together - it is important to know that is going to happen."

Jo Cox's widower said he had been "awed" by the way in which the UK had embraced his wish for communities to celebrate togetherness on the anniversary of his wife's brutal killing.

Brendan Cox enjoyed the sunshine in Heckmondwike, in West Yorkshire, at one of tens of thousands of events around the country organised as part of The Great Get Together.

Accompanied by Mrs Cox's parents, Gordon and Jean Leadbeater, and her sister, Kim Leadbeater, Mr Cox joined hundreds of people in the green at the centre of the town, which is at the heart of her Batley & Spen constituency.

"When we first thought about this we were thinking of just bringing some people together. We didn't think it would have anything like the scale and the traction that it's had. We've been awed by it," he said.

"I think we've had well over 100,000 events with millions of people taking part in the weekend.

"And we got the weather for it, which is a good thing to be able to say."

Mr Cox and his wife's family were greeted warmly by visitors to the event, which included a range of traditional entertainments from a bouncy castle to stalls, as well as live music.

He said: "Of course it's partly about Jo but, actually, I think it's tapping into something more important even than that which is a sense that our communities want to come together again.

"Politics at the moment is so divisive.

"We spend so much time talking about the areas we disagree with each other on, actually finding a moment like this when we just get together with our neighbours and have a good time in parks like this and streets up and down the country, I think is exactly what we need.

"What Jo's killing was designed to do was to tear our communities apart.

"I can think of no better response to that than a moment like this that brings our communities together - people from different background, who come from all different places around here, different faiths. Just moments that don't fixate on the differences but focus on those things that we have in common.

"I think as a country we are not good enough at doing that."