Published On: Wed, Aug 16th, 2017

BRITISH HERO: Bernard Kenny who tried to stop Jo Cox murder


Bernard Kenny Jo CoxSWNS/ PA

Bernard Kenny bravely stepped in help save Jo Cox from being murdered

He had just dropped off his wife Doreen, who had gone inside to return a book, when he spotted a woman he recognised as his local Labour MP Jo Cox.

Moments later he heard a bang, Cox’s body rolled into the road and the man who had shot her was going “berserk”. 

Kenny may have been 77 at the time but he was a stocky man who kept himself fit by swimming every day and as a former member of a mining rescue brigade he wasn’t the sort to stand by if someone was in trouble.

He thrust open his car door and ran towards Cox who was desperately trying to defend herself from the frenzied attack. “I thought if I could jump on to his back I could take him down,” he said. 

“I thought he was thumping her until I saw the blood. I saw he had a knife. The blade was about nine inches.

“Just as I got short of him he turned around and saw me. He shoved the knife in and it hit me in the stomach. 


He was a very private, unassuming family man. Stubborn, kind and fair. An excellent bloke

Phil Kenny


“The blood started pouring out between my fingers. I saw the blood and I thought, ‘Oh my God.’ ” 

Kenny had been stabbed with a 10-inch blade which pierced his liver, narrowly missing his heart and other major organs. 

No longer in a position to do anything to help Cox he staggered to a sandwich shop where he collapsed in the doorway.

It later emerged that Cox was shot three times and stabbed 15 times in an attack by neo-Nazi Thomas Mair who resented her for her liberal views. She was pronounced dead at 1.48pm.

bernard kennyPA

The hero pensioner peacefully passed away at the age of 79 yesterday

And now the man who risked so much to protect her is dead too. Kenny, who was diagnosed with cancer in June this year, passed away with Doreen at his side in the early hours of Monday after being given the last rites by his Roman Catholic parish priest the night before. He is survived by two sons and grandchildren.

Recalling the moment that he heard that his father had been hurt trying to save Cox, his son Phil said: “It was a shock when I got the phone call. We thought at first that he had lost his life. 

“But pretty quickly we found out that he was going to survive.

“It was very much in keeping with him as a man. We weren’t a bit surprised.” Nor were Kenny’s neighbours. 

“He’s an ace guy,” one said in the wake of the murder, adding: “He doesn’t want any fuss but he’s a very brave man.”

Many other people were determined to make a fuss of him, however. 

When news of Kenny’s courageous attempt to intervene to save the MP’s life emerged more than 80,000 people supported an online petition calling for him to be awarded the George Cross, the highest civilian award for gallantry.

The authorities bowed to the pressure and his award was announced in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List although he had yet to receive his medal at the time of his death. 

Not that he courted the attention.

“My dad could have been on wall-to-wall TV but he chose not to,” said Phil, a retired teacher who had once taught geography to a young Jo Cox at Heckmondwike Grammar School. 

“He was a very private, unassuming family man. Stubborn, kind and fair. An excellent bloke.”

George Cross medalPA

A petition to award Mr Kenny the George Cross was signed by 80,000 people

Kenny senior had shown his mettle as long ago as 1973 when along with the other members of the Gomersal Mines Rescue Brigade he had rushed to the Lofthouse colliery after word came through of a major incident there in the pit.

Men working on a new coalface in the Wakefield pit had broken through to an abandoned, flooded 19th-century mineshaft and the ensuing inrush of three million gallons of water trapped seven miners 750ft below the ground.

Speaking on the 30th anniversary of the tragedy Kenny said: “It was rough. The conditions we had to work in were rough. I’ve never seen conditions like it and I never want to see them again. It was very bad.

“You were up to your neck in water and breathing apparatus was needed because there was a high percentage of gas. 

“But we went on with it because you ought to. It was your duty to try to help them and it was sad when it had to be called off.”

Bernard Kenny SWNS

The brave grandfather died after a short battle with cancer

Tragically despite the efforts of Kenny and his colleagues all seven miners died and only one body was ever recovered.

Yesterday Tracy Brabin MP, the former Coronation Street and EastEnders actress who was elected in Jo Cox’s constituency after her death, paid fulsome tribute to her “brave and selfless” constituent.

She added: “Bernard will forever be remembered as a true hero, both as a member of the Miners’ Rescue Team and as a constituent of Batley and Spen who risked his life to protect Jo Cox.”

Meanwhile Brendan Cox, Jo Cox’s widower, tweeted that Kenny was “a hero” – “He personified the best of our country, risking his own safety to help others. 

“Our thoughts and love are with his family.”

And so say all of us.


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