Tributes are being paid following the death of a retired mineworker who tried to save the life of British lawmaker Jo Cox when she was stabbed to death last year.

Bernard Kenny's son says he died Monday after battling cancer. The 79-year-old had jumped on the back of attacker Thomas Mair in a failed attempt to thwart the assault on Cox.

Kenny, who was also stabbed in the assault, was awarded the George Cross, Britain's highest gallantry award for civilians.

The late lawmaker's husband, Brendan, tweeted on Tuesday that "Bernard 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."

Mair, a neo-Nazi, was sentenced to life for Cox's murder and found guilty of causing grievous bodily harm to Kenny.