Halifax’s Lizzie Jones was named Personality of the Year at the Yorkshire Young Achievers Awards in Leeds last night, for her tireless campaigning and fundraising for better heart care for sportspeople after the tragic death of her Welsh International Rugby League player husband, Danny, on the pitch.
The awards, celebrating 25 years of the event, were held at Leeds United’s Centenary Pavilion, Elland Road, and previous winners from down the years were among 400 guests.
Sponsored by McCormicks Solicitors, the awards mark the achievements of young people in eight categories, from the Arts to Sport, and are organised by the Yorkshire Young Achievers Foundation which has now raised more than £1.2m to support young people in Yorkshire.
Previous winners among the guests included Gaynor Faye, Kelvin Fletcher, Bailey Matthews and last year’s Youngster of the Year, Lucy Sherman, who performed at the opening reception.
Chairman of the awards, Peter McCormick OBE, said: “Once again we had some wonderful winners with some truly inspiring stories of courage and determination and it proved a very fitting way to celebrate our 25th anniversary.
“These Awards are also our main fundraiser of the year and none of this would be possible without the support of our sponsors and our guests, many of whom have been with us for many years.”
Soprano singer Lizzie touched the hearts of everyone who saw her when she sang Abide With Me at the 2015 Rugby League Challenge Cup Final just a few months after the death of her husband, Danny, who suffered a cardiac arrest during a match.
Post mortem results showed that he died of cardiomyopathy, an inherited condition leading to the thickening of the cardiac muscles.
Cardiomyopathy can be diagnosed following an echocardiogram screening which was not available to Danny.
Since his loss, Lizzie, who has performed on stage throughout the UK and on screen, has campaigned for all athletes to be screened, resulting in all Rugby League Championship and League 1 players now being offered screenings.
She has also recently launched the Danny Jones Fund, providing defibrillators for local Rugby and sports clubs on a grant basis.
Her efforts have seen her featured on Good Morning Britain, Songs Of Praise, Lorraine Kelly, The BBC Great North Run, This Morning London, BBC Radio Leeds, The Pulse and Heart Radio, as well as in numerous national press publications, all alongside her musical career. She performed at the BBC Sports Personality of the year 2015 as the solo guest singer and closing act singing “Danny Boy” which then spent a week at the no. 1 spot in the classical charts. She has also performed for the Rugby World Club Challenge on Sky Sports and the Ladbrokes Rugby League 4 Nations tournament on BBC. To add to all this, this week she was honoured with a lifetime achievement award and was made an Honorary Life Member of the Parliamentary Rugby League Group at the House of Lords.