Leeds & West Yorkshire

Rugby player Danny Jones' widow launches defibrillator appeal

Keighley player Danny Jones
Image caption Keighley's Danny Jones died after collapsing in a game against London Skolars

The widow of a rugby player who died after collapsing during a match wants to raise £50,000 to buy defibrillators for clubs across the UK.

Lizzie Jones's husband Danny, who played for Keighley Cougars and Wales, died from an undiagnosed heart condition last May.

Mrs Jones said she hoped to be able install machines at half of all junior and community clubs within a year.

The appeal is being run in association with the RFL Benevolent Fund.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Professional singer Lizzie Jones sang Abide With Me before the 2015 Challenge Cup Final

Mrs Jones, a professional singer, has already successfully campaigned for cardiac screening to become mandatory in the top three leagues.

She said: "Very few clubs have them at the moment, which is quite worrying as these machines are a matter of life or death.

"They are so, so important and I would like to think that parents will be asking 'does your club have a defibrillator?' before their children go to play there.

"I am proud to be associated with another project which means Danny's death will not have been in vain."

Mrs Jones, who sang Abide With Me before the 2015 Challenge Cup Final three months after her husband's death, and also performed athe BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards night in December, has donated £1,000 to the appeal.

Steve Ball, general manager of the RFL Benevolent Fund, said: "Incidents of cardiac illness are thankfully very rare in sport but the presence of a defibrillator at every match will provide peace of mind for both players and their families.

"Donations can be made to the fund via a Just Giving page and we would urge everyone to give what they can to this very worthy cause."

An appeal set up to raise funds for the couple's twins Bobby and Phoebe has raised more than £300,000. The appeal is due to close this week and the monies put in to a trust fund.

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