Faith and community spirit combine at Jo Cox weekend events

Churches, faith communities, social groups and civic bodies all joined in the Great Get Together Weekend in Batley, which marked what would have been the 45th birthday of murdered MP Jo Cox.

Four days of shared activities began on Thursday last week with “Step into the Future” when some 1,000 children from 22 schools in Birstall and Batley joined together to parade down the closed main street to the Batley Bulldogs Rugby Ground.

They joined in dozens of sporting activities with the help of Bulldogs players and football stars from Huddersfield Town  and Leeds United.

Revd Mark Umpleby, associate priest in the United Benefice of Batley, joined with local imam Moulana Irfan Soni (pictured together) to talk to the children about their friendship and Kim Leadbeater, Jo Cox’s sister, also spoke to the gathering about the importance of strong community spirit.

Speaking of the overwhelming support for the weekend, Kim, who is chair of More in Common, Batley & Spen, said: "The way the people of Yorkshire have embraced The Great Get Together this year is heartwarming and inspirational in equal measure for our family.

“There have been hundreds of events across the area with people of all faiths and backgrounds coming together, remembering Jo and the message of ‘More in Common’ that she gave us.

“We cannot thank them enough."

Other events supported by people from all walks of life took place in the area on the Friday, as they did at venues across our diocese during the Great Get Together Weekend.

On Saturday the Memorial Gardens, Batley hosted a community service led by Revd Mark who said:

“The last few days have been amazing time where people of all ages and backgrounds have come together.

“It's been amazing to see how friendships have been formed across the faiths, across people from different towns and backgrounds.

“The Community Service was really special and attended by Jo's parents and sister as we came together to celebrate our diverse community... we heard poetry, songs... it was great to share words together with my good friend Moulana Irfan Soni - as we talked about our differences but also what we had in common.

“The whole Great Get Together weekend inspires so many people from what is often seen as a divided nation to come together."

Imam Moulan Irfan Soni added: "The various Great Get Together events in Batley and around the UK showed how much love exist within our diverse communities.
“It showed colour, race, religion, culture in communities do not create hate, but instead display love, respect and understanding."

The weekend finished at Oakwell Hall with a 6.7k run followed by a fun 2.5 family run and Revd Mark did both!

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