Inspirational Woman of the Year and Halifax mum Lizzie Jones bags MBE

Lizzie Jones, of Northowram, is to be awarded an MBE for services to rugby league and charitable causes
Lizzie Jones, of Northowram, is to be awarded an MBE for services to rugby league and charitable causes

A rugby league heroine and inspirational Halifax mum-of-two is to awarded an MBE at Buckingham Palace.

Sporting soprano Lizzie Jones, 35, of Halifax, is to be awarded the MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) for services to Rugby League and charity, after founding the Danny Jones Defibrillator Fund - set up in 2015 following the untimely death of her husband.

Soprano Lizzie Jones performs at the Great Yorkshire Show during the summer

Soprano Lizzie Jones performs at the Great Yorkshire Show during the summer

Danny Jones died aged 29 from an undiagnosed heart condition during a rugby league match, but the Northowram mum-of-twins has turned family tragedy into a long-term screening programme within the Rugby League community.

She said: "I'm delighted but as you'd imagine I'm also shocked."

Mrs Jones, who won the ITV's Inspirational Woman of the Year 2016, said it will be "wonderful" to accept the MBE on behalf of the Fund for the New Year's Honours 2020, and said she is "excited" to be heading to the capital during the summer, where she will receive the prestigious honour.

The Fund has been extended to include other sporting and community groups and has raised over £150,000 to date, screening over 2,000 people in a variety of sports.

Mrs Jones' charity has allowed over 80 defibrillators to be distributed to sporting clubs with grant assistance.

It is reported 75% of players and supporters are now covered by a defibrillator during matches with the ambition to reach 100%, a target which includes professional and grassroots teams.

"The charity has made a massive difference to rugby league and other sports," said Mrs Jones.

"It's something we can offer which also takes pressure off from the NHS.

"Our charity received a lot of coverage, which allowed us to go national and widen our scope.

"I'd like to thank everyone who's help me in the rugby league community because they've kept me grounded."

Mrs Jones also spoke about the challenges she has faced after suddenly losing her husband in 2015.

She said: "Grief is the hardest part.

"But I cannot be proud enough of what we've achieved.

"It's good to progress and for my family to find our 'new normal' together.

"Four years on and it's still making such an impact - so it's all about keep doing what we've been doing.

"We're aiming to get another 2,000 people screen tested."

Mrs Jones also provided a message to anyone who may be struggling with the loss of a loved due to unforeseen circumstances.

"We as people don't have to look hard to find someone else who is struggling," she said.

"We all think we're going through it alone, but it's important to speak to people who can help you find your 'new normal'.

"When we're hit with tragedy it's easy to give up, but it's all about learning to live again because there's positives in everything."