Anger, despair and yet also hope are emotions driving the mourning sister of murdered MP Jo Cox as the second anniversary of her shocking killing looms this Saturday.
Kim Leadbeater told Metro she and her family still feel ‘numb’, two years since far-right terrrorist Thomas Mair stabbed and shot the mother-of-two to death in her West Yorkshire constituency.
But she thanked the public for keeping them going with a wave of support - including thousands of events being planned to mark what would have been Mrs Cox’s 44th birthday later this month.
Ms Leadbeater, 42, is spearheading the ‘Great Get Together’, a three-day nationwide celebration first held last year on the first anniversary of the murder.
The events - from music and festivities on London’s South Bank to street parties, coffee mornings and picnics, iftars and communal dog walks - are centred on Mrs Cox’s ‘more in common’ philosophy.
She used the phrase in her maiden Commons speech after being elected for her home constituency of Batley and Spen at the 2015 general election - just 13 months before her violent death aged 41.
Ms Leadbeater is taking the lead ahead of this year’s Great Get Together, with plenty planned for the weekend of June 22-24 - but the pain of suddenly losing her elder sister still lingers, yet inspires.
Ms Leadbeater told Metro: ‘I’m still numb. I don’t know when or if that will ever change. I still can’t believe what’s happened.
‘That is, I know what’s happened - I’m not in denial. But it still seems so strange.
‘What we decided as a family was to try to produce as much positive energy as possible from the horrific situation we’ve found ourselves in.
‘That’s partly how we’ve always been as a family - the way Jo and I were brought up - and it’s also what I feel Jo would want us to do, to try to create something in her style.’
Neo-Nazi Mair was given a whole-life sentence for Mrs Cox’s gun and knife murder a week before the Brexit referendum in June 2016, when she had been campaigning Remain.
He was heard to shout ‘This is for Britain’ and ‘Britain first’ as he attacked Mrs Cox, who used her final moments to put herself in harm’s way while urging others to escape.
Ms Leadbeater said: ‘There are days when of course I’m angry - it would be wrong to say I’m not.
‘Sometimes, yes, I do feel in despair.
‘The important thing is not to give in to those emotions.
‘We’ve had so much taken away from us as a family, I refuse to have any more taken away.
‘Jo always tried to create something positive - something for people to hang on to.
‘And we’ve been so incredibly well-supported. I’ve been surrounded by love.
‘When people say what a great job we’re doing, that’s what keeps you going - that spurs you on.
‘Our community could have been totally fractured by what happened but a lot of people came together to make sure that didn’t happen.
‘I can’t thank people enough for the support they’ve shown us.
‘The vast majority of people in this country are good - I have to believe that.’
She fears that too much division still scars the nation’s politics, in a week when Mrs Cox’s friend and Labour backbench colleague Jess Phillips revealed the extent of online ‘trolling’ she receives - including 600 rape threats in one night.
Mrs Cox’s activisim including a drive against loneliness and also a cross-party collaboration with Conservative former international development secretary Andrew Mitchell urging better-targeted humanitarian intervention in Syria.
Ms Leadbeater added: ‘The Great Get Together is about providing a different narrative to the one of division and negativity that seems to exist in the country at times.
‘Jo was all about bringing people together.
‘It’s partly about a legacy for Jo but also about uniting people to do something positive.
‘Yes, we have differences but fundamentally we’re all looking to make human connections - even if that’s just chatting to somebody you might not otherwise.
‘And that way you’ll find the things we do have in common.’
She encouraged anyone organising Great Get Together events to register online, with more information available at www.greatgettogether.org.