The parents of more than 2,300 boys and girls will watch their children play Rugby League this weekend secure in the knowledge that potentially life-saving first aid equipment is on hand at pitchside.
Thirty two clubs have so far purchased defibrillators with help from the Danny Jones Defib Fund which has distributed £20,000 to the community game to make Rugby League safer than ever before.
Set up in memory of Danny Jones, the Keighley Cougars players who collapsed and died from an undiagnosed heart defect in summer 2015, the fund has also helped buy defibrillators that are now present at National Conference League clubs to offer peace of mind to 14,000 players.
Danny’s wife, Lizzie is still working tirelessly to raise awareness of the fund and has personally presented all 32 defibrillators to the donor clubs, including Leeds Underdogs, Leeds Leopards, West Leeds and Masters Rugby League who all received their equipment at a recent Leeds Rhinos fixture at Headingley.
Clubs which already have a defibrillator can also apply to the fund for grants to subsidise cardiac screening for players aged 14 years and upwards, and so far two clubs – Thatto Heath from St Helens and Leigh East – have benefited from this support.
The Danny Jones Defibrillator Fund operates in conjunction with the RFL Benevolent Fund, whose manager Steve Ball is delighted by the response from the Rugby League public.
“We’ve raised over £25,000 so far and are on target to raise another £25,000 though sponsorship and generous donations,” said Steve. “Lizzie’s hard work and commitment to this cause is inspirational and it’s fantastic to see so many people taking what we are doing to their hearts.
“Seventy of the 75 Conference League clubs now have defibrillators and within the next six months we anticipate that 50 per cent of clubs in regional competitions will have one as well.
“Our goal is to help the remaining 50 per cent of clubs who don’t have one to purchase an essential piece of equipment which gives peace of mind to players, officials and supporters alike.”