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Celebrate Jo Cox’s life and mark her birthday in Trafalgar Square on Wednesday

Caroline McGinn

This Wednesday, June 22 would have been Jo Cox’s forty-second birthday and her friends are marking it by organising a massive public event in Trafalgar Square at 4pm, where her husband Brendan and Malala Yousafzai will both be speaking. The order of events has now been released:

★ Music before the event by Diddley Dee, a band that Jo loved, and had even sang with over the years. Diddley Dee played at Jo and Brendan’s wedding. The band’s members are close friends of Jo and Brendan as well as campaigners and activists. They have played a special part in Jo and Brendan’s life and are performing many of their most loved songs.

★ Honour guard from Jo’s friends from the women's movement wearing sashes in the suffragette colours of white, green and purple. Jo was a forceful feminist and a passionate campaigner for women’s rights. White, green and purple – the suffragette colours symbolise Jo’s commitment to the women’s movement and were also the colours she chose for her wedding.   

★ Mariella Frostrup will host the event. She is an old friend of Jo’s, having met her over a decade ago. They campaigned together on several causes they had in common. 

★ Faith representatives. People from many faiths will lay 42 white roses to mark what would have been Jo’s 42nd birthday today.  The White Rose is a symbol of Yorkshire and ‘The White Rose’ was a non violent resistance group in Nazi Germany led by students. Participants will include The Right Reverend Nigel Stock, Bishop from Lambeth, Rabbi Liss, Chief Executive of the Rabbinical Council, Dr Shuja Shafi, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain, Umesh Sharma of the Hindu Council of UK and Andrew Copson, Chief Executive of British Humanist Association. 

★ film tribute to Jo, made by her close friend Sarah Hamilton, a film-maker who was one of the best women at Jo and Brendan’s wedding. With support from Minnow Films and Zara Hayes. Edited by Emma Iysaght.

★ Jo’s husband, Brendan Cox will speak

★ A minute of silence will be observed in London, Batley and around the world, and also in Oxfam shops nationwide (Jo worked for Oxfam for several years). 

★ Kim Leadbeater, Jo’s sister will speak from Batley

★ Musical tribute by video from U2. Bono, with whom Jo worked during the campaign Make Poverty History, and the band have made a special recording from Los Angeles.

★  A reading from Bill Nighy, who worked with Jo on some of her causes and campaigns.

★ A video from The White Helmets - volunteer search and rescue workers in Syria who are one of the recipients of the Jo Cox Fund, which has already raised over a million pounds

★  Song performed by the children’s choir from Cuillin’s (Jo’s son’s) school. The song is one of the anthems of the Civil Rights Movement and another of Jo’s favourites.

★  Speech from Malala. One of the causes which was closest to Jo’s heart was education for girls and Malala and Jo’s work intersected at many points.Malala was shot whilst on the bus to school for daring to defy those who had banned education for girls in her region of Pakistan and has spent much of her life since campaigning for human rights and education. 

★ Friends of Jo’s who have helped to organise the event will address the crowd: Gemma Mortensen, Mabel van Oranje, Nick Grono, Tim Dixon and Kirsty McNeill.

 Alumni of the West End Cast of Les Miserables will sing one of Jo and Brendan’s favourite songs.

Organisers of the event (‘More in Common – Celebrating the life of Jo Cox’) say it will celebrate ‘Jo’s warmth, love, energy, passion, flair, Yorkshire heritage and the belief in the humanity of every person in every place.’ Simultaneous events will take place in several other locations, including New York, Batley and Spen, Brussels, Washington DC, and Nairobi.

Jo was immensely proud of her Yorkshire heritage and roots. But in the London part of her life, she and her family lived on a houseboat. In advance of the event in Trafalgar Square, friends from the Hermitage Moorings co-op in Wapping will tow a dinghy laden with flowers and tributes down the Thames, to arrive at the Houses of Parliament at 3.30pm. 

You can join in by using #moreincommon – it's a quote from the MP's maiden speech in parliament, in which she said, ‘We have far more in common with each other than the things that divide us’.

Get full updates at the More in Common Facebook event.

If you can't make it, you can still donate to charities chosen by her family.

Thanks again to Daniel Murtha (@_danm_) for the great illustration.

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