Leeds Rhinos legend Jamie Jones-Buchanan is first patron of Inspire North charity
Leeds Rhinos star Jamie Jones-Buchanan has become the first patron of a charity which supports people of all ages affected by homelessness, mental health problems and domestic abuse across the north of England.
Rhinos assistant coach Jamie - whose cousin Bethany Fields, 21, of Bramley, was killed by an ex partner - said he wants to do all he can to raise awareness of domestic abuse in the hope that he can help others.
Last year, Jamie and the Leeds Rhinos Foundation supported Inspire North's No Excuse for Abuse social media campaign.
The campaign was aimed at raising awareness and encouraged people to report any suspicions they may have to police after a surge in reports of domestic abuse during lockdown.
As patron of Inspire North, Jamie will help to raise awareness of a broad range of issues including mental health and well-being, as well as how sport can be a huge benefit to young people and domestic abuse.
He said: “Being able to take on this role means a great deal to me personally after my cousin, Bethany Fields, was killed by an ex-partner in September 2019.
"I’ve seen first-hand the devastation that has had to immediate family members and I see the vast amount of work that still needs to be done in communities in the continued fight against domestic abuse.”
Jamie will also help the charity to raise awareness of how being active in sport can help young people’s mental health and well-being.
He said: “During my time as a professional rugby league player for my home-town club, Leeds Rhinos, I’ve come to understand the benefits of being physically active and how a strong community can serve to help us to overcome a variety of mental health and social issues.
"In conjunction with the superb work that is done by the Leeds Rhinos Foundation in changing lives through sport it is a pleasure to become a patron of Inspire North, a fantastic charity that helps so many people across the North of England.”
Welcoming Jamie to the role of patron Inspire North chief executive Ruth Kettle, said: “The past year has been tough for everyone because of the Covid-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns.
"As we hopefully begin to emerge from this very difficult period it is the ideal time to look forward with hope and vigour as to how we can help the many people in our area who are affected by issues including mental health, housing needs and domestic abuse.
“We are delighted and very grateful that Jamie will be working with us to raise awareness of these many important factors that affect society across our region.”
Jamie is Inspire North’s first ever patron. He will be in post for the next three years, with each year having a specific focus.
Year one focusses on mental health and well-being as we emerge from the pandemic and lockdown.
Year two will focus on linking young people’s well-being with sport and year three will focus on domestic abuse.
- At Leeds Crown Court in September 2020, Bethany Fields' former partner Paul Crowther was handed a life sentence for her manslaughter.
The court heard Crowther, 36, from Birstall, near Batley, “ambushed” Miss Fields in Huddersfield on September 12 2019 and stabbed her with a kitchen knife after she ended their relationship.
Crowther pleaded guilty to manslaughter after he was diagnosed with schizophrenia following her death.
Judge Tom Bayliss QC described Crowther as a “very dangerous man indeed” as he ordered him to be detained in hospital as part of his minimum sentence of 12 years.