In recent days, we have all come to know the name of Jo Cox the Labour member of parliament for Batley and Spen. The reason for this is of cause her sudden and horrific murder by the hands of a radical lunatic and advocate of the politics of hate. Just days before her 42nd birthday, she was killed far before her time. Despite all the publicity her name has gotten, few actually knew who she was or what her achievements were.

"I had never head of Jo Cox"

I am one of those people. I had never heard of Jo Cox before a news alert popped up on my phone saying a MP had been attacked outside their constituency surgery.

Before this horrifying event, I doubt many members of the public outside of her constituency had heard of her. As a result of my clear ignorance, I decided I would research who Jo Cox was in order to understand the gravity of her loss. What I found was an extraordinary woman who worked tirelessly for her constituents and those less fortunate.

Where was she from?

Jo Cox was born on 22nd June 1974 in Batley, West Yorkshire. Her mother was a school secretary, her father a toothpaste and hair spray factory worker. She became head girl while in secondary school and worked summers in order to earn money, not unlike many other students. At Pembroke Collage, Cambridge she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Social and Political Sciences in 1995 – she was also the first in her family to attend university.

Her early career

Following her graduation, Jo Cox worked as an adviser to Labour MP Joan Walley before moving to Brussels to work for Glenys Kinnock MEP. In 2001 her career with Oxfam began, first in Brussels heading up the trade-reform campaign, and later on head of policy and advocacy at Oxfam GB in 2005.

In 2007 she moved to New York to head up Oxfam’s international humanitarian campaigns.

Adviser to anti-slavery charity

Cox’s work in the charity sector lead her to work for Sarah Brown (wife of former Prime Minister Gordon Brown), helping to lead campaigns to prevent deaths in pregnancy and childbirth.

She then became chair of the Labour Woman’s Network and a senior adviser to the Freedom Fund, an anti-slavery charity.

A humanitarian-minded person

It is clear from her early career that Jo Cox was a very humanitarian-minded person who cared deeply for the world’s most disadvantaged. Proof of this lays in her visits to both Darfur and Afghanistan while working for Oxfam. Johnny Mercer, MP for Plymouth More View said Jo Cox was, “the epitome of the modern politician; inspiring previous career; over qualified, full of empathy, determination and devotion to public service.” The Prime Minister, David Cameron in tributes yesterday states that she was a humanitarian to her core.

"We have lost one of our own"

It was also clear from tributes yesterday in parliament led by Jeremy Corbin that she will be greatly missed by her peers. The Labour lead said, “we have lost one of our own, and society has lost one of our best.” Harriet Harman also said,she is a great loss to our politicsand an irreplaceable loss to her family.”

A wife and mother of two

Naturally, it is her family who will bear the brunt of her loss. As a wife, as a mother of two young children, her loss will be keenly felt if not for the near future but for the remainder of their lives. If any reassurance can be given to her family, it is that her work and achievements that have clearly touched so many lives in such a positive manner will live on.

A man who tried to help

And on a final note to the manner by which she was cruelly killed, we should praise the actions of Bernard Kenny who tried his utmost to help Jo Cox and was himself stabbed. Today calls have been made for Kenny to be awarded the George Cross, the highest award for bravery a civilian can receive. Whether or not he is awarded this award, the nation as a whole will still be in shock about these events and its effects for some time.

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