A poignant tribute will be paid to former Halifax RLFC player Danny Jones when his widow sings the traditional Ladbrokes Challenge Cup final hymn, Abide With Me, prior to kick-off at Wembley Stadium today.
Lizzie, the wife of former Keighley Cougars and Wales international, is a professional singer and wants to use the occasion to thank the Rugby League family for their heartfelt support since her husband’s tragic death in May.
Danny died from undiagnosed hereditary heart disease after collapsing during a match against London Skolars, leaving behind Lizzie and their twins Bobby and Phoebe, who are now eight months old.
Since his tragic and untimely death, there has been an outpouring of support and more than £230,000 has been donated to a trust fund set up by the RFL Benevolent Fund to secure the futures of Danny and Lizzie’s children.
Lizzie Jones said: “It’s fantastic for me, I’m so excited and happy to be able to do something for Danny and to say ‘Thank you’ to the Rugby League community and to everybody who has helped and supported me since Danny died.
“I can’t thank people enough for what they’ve done. They’ve made the most horrific point in my life a little bit more bearable. The kindness has been overwhelming.”
Following Danny’s untimely death, the RFL has made heart screening for players at Championship and League 1 clubs mandatory and the profile the tragedy has gained is already having a positive impact.
“I spoke to a nurse this week who approached me saying that a young man came into the hospital where she works complaining of chest pains,” Lizzie added.
“He’s young, he’s a cyclist and is very fit but had seen what happened to Danny and how it all came out of nowhere.
“That prompted him to go to hospital that day where an ECG revealed he did have a problem with his heart, which the doctors are now treating.
“That decision saved his life: Danny saved his life; he’s already saving people and that’s an important legacy.”
It’s a legacy which will live on as other events in Danny’s memory are planned throughout the year.
On October 11, members of the Rugby League family will step out to play a charity game at the Shay Stadium and all proceeds from the day will go directly to the benevolent fund.
And to celebrate the launch of the event, Lizzie, Phoebe and Bobby will lead the teams out at Halifax RLFC’s next home game against Salford Red Devils on September 5.
A concert, ‘Danny Jones One in a Million’ will also be held at the Victoria Theatre on Friday, September 11. See our WOW 24/7 pullout for more information.