A SCHOOL basketball team chosen to represent England needs to raise £15,000 to take part in the World Championships in April.
Helsby High were chosen after fielding strong Under-17 and U16 teams in the National Championships.
The U17s won while the U16s were runners-up. Because internationally, age boundaries are measured January to December rather than September to August, those responsible for the UK representatives chose to make Helsby one of their two teams.
Now a mixture of the U16s and U17s will fly out to Pau in South West France for eight days of basketball against some of the world's top teams.
While representatives from other countries will be drawn from specialist, highly-funded sports academies, Helsby are not so lucky and must pay their own way somehow.
'In the UK, we are a laughing stock,' said head of PE Dennis Evans. 'We have a successful cross-country team that has represented the UK before and taking them to compete was expensive.
'But when we got to the events and spoke to the other competitors, they found it astonishing and quite funny that we were a standard school without any extra funding.
'Their academies are so well off they can pay for students to compete. We can't, and have to appeal for any philanthropists or well-wishers to make donations or fundraise in order to allow our pupils the chance to fulfil their promise and represent their country.
'It is a lot of money we need but it is necessary. As well as travel for the squad and accommodation, we need kit, kit bags, money to pay for the inevitable luggage excess, various energy drinks and medical equipment in case of injury.
'It seems it will also cost us between £5,000 and £7,000 to hire a coach for the duration.
'We have a great headteacher in Richard Evans, who is funding what he can, and we have already got support from Amore Bistro in Frodsham and the MacArthur Glen designer outlet in Ellesmere Port plus there are parents fund-raising too, but we are a long way from what we need.
'There is also the matter of the rest of school. Nothing is cheap so parents are continually forking out. We need to find another way and in the absence of a multi-millionaire former pupil to give us money, we must appeal to anyone who wants to help these boys go to represent their country.'
If you would like to help in some way, contact Dennis on 01928 723551.