Hartlepool’s Hawks cheerleaders will represent the town and country this weekend after raising £25,000 to compete in Croatia.
A total of 42 athletes, aged from seven to 28, are on their way to the European Cheerleading Championships in Zagreb.
They hit their fundraising target in just three months by staging performances around the town, packing bags in supermarkets and holding fundraising nights.
The group, including about 50 adults, jetted out last night with the competition taking place this weekend.
Becci Taylor, head coach of the cheerleading academy, said: “We have had to raise £25,000 over the past three months to be able to go and we hit our target just before we went which was brilliant.
“We have had help from a lot of people and companies in Hartlepool and also across the North East.
“The members have got involved with all kinds of events such as fundraising nights, race nights, quizzes and put on performances around the town.
“We have also had bucket collections and done bag packing in Tesco, Morrisons and B&M.
“It came as a big shock to have as many teams and athletes going so to raise the money is just amazing.
“In most sports you usually don’t get this opportunity to compete abroad at such a young age.
“Most of our athletes that are going haven’t been on an aeroplane before. It is going to be a social experience for them as well as a sporting experience.”
The athletes comprise 40 girls and just two boys. They all qualified for the European championships at the UK National Championships which took place in March.
Nine teams will compete in different disciplines for dancing, gymnastics and stunts.
And they have been rehearsing hard for the big occasion.
Becci added: “They have been training every day leading up to it to work on their fitness levels.
“Then when we get to Croatia there is six hours of climate training because it is rather warm over there.”
Sponsors have helped to kit them out in new attire including T-shirts, tracksuits and hoodies.
Next month, the Hawks will be presented with a plaque by Mayor Councillor Paul Beck in recognition of their achievements and representation of the town when they are invited to Hartlepool Civic Centre.