Thousands take part in virtual 'Great Get Together' in memory of Batley MP Jo Cox - including an impromptu wedding
They may not have been able to 'get together' as they have in years passed, but ingenuity and creativity led to thousands of people making connections and remembering murdered MP Jo Cox this weekend.
The annual Great Get Together looked a little different this year, with Zoom calls and social distancing replacing the usual community parties, and a virtual 'Run for Jo' instead of the usual fun run at Oakwell Hall in Birstall.
Events included an impromptu wedding to replace one that had been cancelled and a re-imagining of Scarborough Fair.
Leeds-born Mike Lomas was due to wed bride-to-be Alicia Evans - but with the ceremony cancelled due to the coronavirus lockdown, members of their community in Llantwit Major in the Vale of Glamorgan held their own special ceremony for the pair.
Friends from their street arranged an aisle and socially distant seating for the rearranged ceremony including bridesmaids, a best man and a ‘vicar’.
Mr Lomas said: “When the wedding was cancelled we expected it to be a weekend full of disappointment and misery. Instead it’s been really memorable and we’ll always remember the time we got married in the street by our neighbours.
“They had got wind that we’d meant to be married on the day and we had no idea it was going to happen. Halfway through the street party, the organiser asked my fiancée to go one end of the street and I was ordered to go to the other.
"I put on a shirt and dickie bow and my fiancée had a veil. We had flower girls and someone had been picking bouquets from people’s gardens, so it was a real surprise. We didn’t know any of these people before lockdown and we’ll remember that forever.”
Writers, poets, model makers and performers all contributed to a re-imagined Scarborough Fair, with three days of creative competitions and £1,000 worth of prizes for the winners.
More than a thousand people across the world took part in this year’s ‘Run for Jo’.
Mrs Cox’s parents, Gordon and Jean Leadbeater, and her sister Kim, took to the streets in her former constituency of Batley and Spen where the run is traditionally held.
This year many more people were able to take part by running or walking 6.5km or 2.5km along their own chosen route, while observing social distancing.
Tom Weller went the extra mile – or the extra 85 miles – raising hundreds of pounds by going out every hour and running 141km in twenty-four hours near his home in Oxford. Runners from almost thirty countries took part, including Australia, Japan, Vietnam, Finland and Tanzania.
Ms Leadbeater, said: "What an amazing Great Get Together weekend it has been. It has been inspirational and heart warming for me to see so many people across the country coming together ‘virtually’ to celebrate the power of community and remember Jo’s message that we have ‘more in common than that which divides us.’
"From local acts of community kindness, to the global Run for Jo and a powerful and moving online community service, we have shown that, whilst there are undoubtedly still important challenges to overcome, there is also a huge amount to be proud of in our communities.
"And despite being deeply saddened by the horrific attack in Reading on Saturday I, along with many, many others remain resolute that we will not allow ourselves to be divided.
"Together we can show those who seek to sow division and hatred that they will never win. So on behalf of Jo’s family I say a heartfelt ‘Thank You’ to every single person who joined in with this year’s Great Get Together - please stay connected, stay safe and stay strong.”
The annual event is held on the weekend closest to what would have been Mrs Cox's birthday.