FAMILY and friends of murdered MP Jo Cox gathered in the Spen Valley yesterday to mark the official opening of a new community wood in her honour.

More than 100 people visited the site in Liversedge where over 1,000 trees and hedging have been planted, and new paths, fences and gates installed.

The site between Heckmondwike and Cleckheaton lies in the heart of the Batley and Spen constituency, where Jo Cox was MP from May 2015 until she was murdered in June 2016.

Spen Valley Civic Society came up with the idea of the community wood, with the project funded by Biffa Award, as part of the Landfill Communities Fund, with additional funding and support from Kirklees Council, the Woodland Trust and DEFRA.

Civic Society members have worked tirelessly for months with volunteers from local communities, to transform the 1.5 hectare site.

Next to Spen Valley Greenway, it is easily accessible on foot or by bike. Visitors can also make use of picnic tables and benches, and the area can also be used as an outdoor classroom for local schools.

The project will also improve habitat for wildlife, and counteract air pollution in Spen Valley as the wood grows and matures.

More than 70 people have sponsored a tree and part of the site is a community orchard planted as a tribute to Civic Society member John Appleyard.

Mrs Cox’s family have planted an oak tree in her memory. Her parents, Jean and Gordon attended the official opening along with Jo’s sister Kim. They unveiled an information board which includes details of the former MP’s life and work, plus pictures drawn by her children Cuillin and Lejla.

Jo Cox’s sister Kim Leadbeater said: “This is a fantastic tribute to Jo. She loved nature and the outdoors and the idea of such a beautiful place where people from all backgrounds can come together is something she would have loved.

"I would like to thank everyone from Spen Valley Civic Society, the funders and all the amazing volunteers who have worked so hard to make this project happen, and I look forward to seeing many people enjoying spending time in Jo’s wood in the coming months and years.”

Max Rathmell, chairman of Spen Valley Civic Society said: “This is our biggest-ever project. Thank you to our funders and the hundreds of people from all sections of the community, who’ve come together to create this wood. We feel it is a fitting tribute to Jo Cox and her values. We now ask local people to visit regularly, enjoy the outdoors, and help share the responsibility for looking after this wood, so that humans and wildlife can benefit from it for many years to come.”

More details and a plan of the wood can be found at