About three dozen British, French and Belgian people met for a community picnic in southwest France to be part of more than 121,000 Great Get Together events organised in the UK to honour MP Jo Cox, who was murdered a year ago.
Anne Hopkins, who lives near Souillac Lot, organised her own event as she said she wanted to do something to remember Jo Cox and to do something positive in the light of the recent terrorist attacks, and the Grenfell Tower fire.
She was delighted that people came even though they were in France and not the UK: “I have lots of ideas, but this one that wouldn’t go away though I didn’t know what the response would be. I am extremely pleased so many people came and it shows that everybody wants to give something and be part of it and that’s a lovely feeling.”
LibDem Mrs Cox and Remain campaigner was fatally shot and stabbed in Birstall in her Yorkshire constituency of Batley and Spen. Her family came up with the idea of a Great Get Together, inspired by her life and the words she spoke in her maiden speech to Parliament, “We are far more united and have far more in common than that which divides us.”
At the Souillac event people brought food and shared a picnic together under the shade of parasols and trees in Mrs Hopkins’ garden, which she had decorated with red and white gingham bunting to match the theme of the UK event. Later there was music and children swam in the pool. Those who came said that above all they wanted to remember a remarkable woman, Jo Cox.
Diana Holmes had made a special effort to be there: “I came because I would support anything that would remember Jo Cox and the ideal she stood for and I’m very pleased I did.”
Annette and Clive Berrecloth have been in the Lot for 12 years but said living in France did not mean terrible events in the UK were not shocking: “Even if we don’t live in the UK we still feel strongly about this death.”
Betty Orme agreed: “She was one politician who affected everyone. Even if you are in France you are still affected by it. She was an angel and this should not have happened. We have come here to celebrate her life and to hope that perhaps some good can come out of evil.”
French neighbours also joined in, with Elaine Bieri saying: “People knew about it in France and it was so shocking to us too. What I say comes from my heart. We think this kind of event is a good way to get people together and can make us closer.”
In the UK, events organised by the Jo Cox Foundation began on Friday, the anniversary of her death but most took part over the weekend.
The organisers said it was the biggest community celebration since the Queen’s Jubilee parties and the event website had been inundated with stories of neighbours meeting each other for the first time and old friendships rekindled. They want to continue to work to bring communities together.
Sign up to our free weekly e-newsletter
Subscribe to access all our online articles and receive our printed monthly newspaper The Connexion at your home. News analysis, features and practical help for English-speakers in France