It was a tragedy which shook the sporting world to its core.
Halifax-born rugby player Danny Jones was just 29 years old when he collapsed and died from an undiagnosed heart condition while playing for Keighley Cougars in May 2015.
He left behind his wife Lizzie and baby twins Bobby and Phoebe.
Since then, Lizzie, who lives in Northowram, has made it her mission to fundraise in memory of Danny in a bid to prevent other lives being lost in such a tragic way.
In just two years and amid a huge outpouring of support, the Danny Jones Defibrillator Fund has smashed its initial £50,000 target. Last month, over £25,000 was raised at the DJ Defib Ball at Headingley Stadium. This means that more than 20,000 players across the country are now covered by potentially life-saving defibrillators. It’s a legacy borne from the darkest and tragic of hours, but a legacy which shines on and inspires to this day.
Lizzie said: “Danny’s legacy is so powerful and he really is saving lives, I couldn’t be prouder.
“[He] was far too special not to make a change and a difference.”
But the fundraising doesn’t stop there. Lizzie will join rugby league legends Kevin Sinfield MBE, Barrie McDermott and 20 other hardy volunteers on an epic adventure this weekend.
The group is aiming to complete the National Three Peaks Challenge, which will see them tackle the highest mountains in Wales, Scotland and England.
Lizzie said: “The support we have had from the whole rugby league family since Danny’s death has been incredible and I’m sure they’ll get behind us as we look to complete the three peaks. Tens of thousands of people now watch rugby league every weekend safe in the knowledge that a defibrillator is present in case of emergency. The defibrillator fund is also assisting community clubs to conduct cardiac screening on their players and the money we raise on the challenge will allow to do more.”
People are also being urged to show their support for the fund by wearing their favourite jersey on the eve of this year’s Ladbrokes Challenge Cup final. Friday, August 25, has been named as the sport’s first ‘jersey day’ and was the idea of lifelong fan Graham Berry. Lizzie is backing the event and a special jersey has been made to represent Danny’s club (Keighley Cougars), country (Wales), his number (six) and to mark Jersey Day.
She said: “The way everyone comes together for events like these really does make me proud to be involved in this sport.”
To donate to the fund, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/danny-jones-defibrillator-fund or to support the Three Peaks Challenge, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/LizzieJones6