The caring and generous nature of the Rugby League family will be put into sharp focus on national television not once but twice over the weekend when the sport celebrates the biggest match in its calendar.
While no quarter will be given in Saturday’s Ladbrokes Challenge Cup final between Hull FC and Warrington Wolves, giving will be the key for a charity which has captured the hearts of the nation.
The Danny Jones Defibrillator Fund, set up in memory of the former Keighley and Wales player, has already raised thousands of pounds to help install life-saving equipment in community Rugby League clubs across the UK.
This weekend Danny’s wife, Lizzie will take the profile of the charity’s work to new heights with two fantastic appearances on BBC television.
On Saturday, Lizzie will be the Chief Guest at Wembley, a role that will see her present the game’s oldest and most prestigious trophy to the winners of a match which has been played annually since 1897.
And, a year on from her spellbinding performance of Abide With Me at Wembley, Lizzie will also be on hand to support the community choir that will sing the traditional Challenge Cup hymn prior to kick-off.
Her involvement with the choir will form the theme for the long-running faith programme Songs of Praise on BBC1 on Sunday at 5.15pm, when Lizzie’s story, and the success of the defibrillator fund, will gain massive exposure.
“It’s a real honour and a privilege to be asked to be Guest of Honour at the Challenge Cup final and I’m really looking forward to it,” said Lizzie.
“I enjoyed singing last year but because I was performing it was hard to take in everything else on the day. This time I get the chance to spend more time with my family and appreciate what a fantastic occasion it is.
“I had a great time as a member of the panel that selected the choir, which has one member from each of the game’s clubs. It was really tough whittling it down because some clubs had quite a few strong candidates.
“I’m sure all the people involved in the choir will have the time of their lives: what they are doing is amazing, especially because they’re helping us get the message out there about the fund.”
Organised in association with the RFL Benevolent Fund, the Danny Jones Defibrillator Fund has so far helped buy 22 defibrillators for junior clubs across the country and is processing applications for assistance from a dozen more.
Over £20,000 has so far been raised, a total that will increase this weekend when an army of volunteers holds a bucket collection on behalf of the fund around Wembley, where commemorative ‘DJ’ heart badges will also be on sale for £2 each.
“The fans have been amazing so far but I’m not at all surprised because nothing the Rugby League family does surprises me,” said Lizzie.
“We have started something really special here and it’s important that we carry it on: the more defibrillators we help buy, the more money we spend and the more we need to raise. “It would be fantastic to raise £10,000 at Wembley and get nearer our goal of having a defibrillator in place at pitchside for every Rugby League match at every level all over the country.”
For more information on the Danny Jones Defibrillator Fund please visit www.dannyjonesdefibfund.co.uk/ To make a donation please visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/danny-jones-defibrillator-fund