Around 80 cyclists crossed a finish line in London after a 288-mile bike ride in Jo Cox’s memory (Lucy North/PA)
PA Wire/PA Images - Lucy North
The parents of murdered MP Jo Cox have said they are “elated” as around 80 cyclists crossed a finish line in London following a 288-mile bike ride in the politician’s memory.
Jean and Gordon Leadbeater called the ride the “epitome” of what their daughter believed in – that people have more in common than what divides them.
The riders, aged 17 to 77 and including 31 women, set off on Wednesday from the Princess Mary Athletics Stadium in Cleckheaton in the Batley and Spen constituency Mrs Cox represented until her murder in 2016.
The finish line in London (Lucy North/PA)PA Wire/PA Images - Lucy North
The neon-clad group were welcomed by the joyful sounds of samba drums and the cheers of family and friends in London Bridge on Sunday, having climbed a total of 15,000 feet along the way.
The ride aims to keep alive the legacy of the former Labour MP, who was shot and stabbed by a far-right terrorist, by promoting community spirit and supporting causes that were important to her, organisers said.
Mrs Leadbeater told the PA news agency: “This is actually the epitome of Jo’s ‘more in common’.
“There are people on the ride, different nationalities, religion, age, and they all come together, pull together, help each other along different abilities, but no one is left behind. They get on so well together.
Gordon and Jean Leadbeater (Lucy North/PA)PA Wire/PA Images - Lucy North
“It’s just a tremendous event.”
Mr Leadbeater, speaking with his arm around his wife, said: “We’re really proud that it’s built up and that it’s using Jo’s name.”
“That sums her up and she would have been delighted by this,” he continued.
His wife added that Mrs Cox would also have been delighted by the number of women who joined the ride this year – making up about 40% of the group – as her daughter was “always a great believer in a 50:50 Parliament”.
Mrs Cox’s sister Kim Leadbeater, who was elected to represent her sister’s old seat in a 2021 by-election, told PA: “The bike ride is everything Jo believed in – the fact that when we’ve got a shared goal, when we’ve got a shared vision, we are much stronger.”
She continued: “The message is the really important bit, you know, we’ve had people cycle on this ride who have lost people.
“We’ve had people, a young lad who’s only 17 from Yorkshire, doing the ride. His dad did it last year, his dad got cancer, and his son wanted to do it this year to honour his dad and he’s just met his dad down here in floods of tears.
“And, you know, that’s really, really powerful stuff, isn’t it?
Kim Leadbeater and Sarfraz Mian (Lucy North/PA)PA Wire/PA Images - Lucy North
“People who have been through whatever dramas and traumas to do with their own lives, and that creates that emotional bond between people and I think that’s really special.”
Sarfraz Mian, who set up the bike ride “weeks” after Mrs Cox was murdered, told PA: “We’ve been able to embrace what Jo represented and kind of make it into a living embodiment really of that spirit.”
Yaseen Javed Fadal, from Batley, participated in honour of his father – who was diagnosed with cancer – and who was proudly filming his son being interviewed.
The 17-year-old held back tears as he spoke about reuniting with his family at the end of the 288-mile journey.
“I broke down,” he said.
When she was killed, I thought it was just an absolute travesty and then a few years later, I heard about the ride, and I thought, well, what a wonderful way to actually make Jo’s legacy actually mean something and continue to mean something
Kath Lyons, from Glusburn in North Yorkshire, completed the ride for a second time and hailed the event’s importance for Mrs Cox’s family and “for the country”.
The 77-year-old told PA: “When she was killed, I thought it was just an absolute travesty and then a few years later, I heard about the ride, and I thought, well, what a wonderful way to actually make Jo’s legacy actually mean something and continue to mean something.
“It’s very easy for things to take hold for a couple of years, and then they just gradually things go, shall we say back to normal.”
She added that “if anything” proves Mrs Cox’s “more in common” principle it is this bike ride.
“I think that’s important, not only not only to Jo’s family, but I think for the country as well, quite honestly, because we’ve got far too much of a divide with so many things,” she said.