A pupil is hoping to spread some cheer all the way to America when she represents England in the World Cheerleading Championships.

Dancer Sophie Austerfield, 17, is a member of the Team England ParaCheer Hip Hop squad but needs to raise funds in order to take her place at the prestigious competition in Florida in April.

ParaCheer is a new division of cheerleading in which mixed disability athletes work together to create a routine that incorporates elements of hip hop dancing.

For Sophie, a member of the Yorkshire Martyrs cheerleading school, dance and cheering has been her saviour after suffering mental health issues since she was 11 years old.

Year 12 pupil Sophie said: “I have suffered severely with mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. Going to dance and cheer was something that really helped me get through it. Last year I hit what I would call rock bottom and doing things like going to school and dance was a real struggle.

“It’s always been my dream to represent my country and somehow I found the strength to go and try out for Team England ParaCheer Hip Hop and I made the team. However, the cost of everything adds up as flights, entry fees and training has to be paid for by ourselves.”

Sophie is now looking for individuals or businesses that would be willing to sponsor her as she tries to realise her ambition of representing her country. Fundraising activities will also be taking place in school.

She added:

“Please help me show that having a mental health issue doesn’t have to stop you from reaching your dreams.”

Principal Daniel Styles said:

“It is amazing that Sophie has been able to use her talent in dancing and cheerleading to represent her country. We are so proud of her as we encourage our students not just in their education but also in their passions and to follow their dreams outside of school.

“It takes a great deal of maturity to juggle both schoolwork and extra-curricular hobbies. We are all rooting for her to bring home a medal and hope that the generous people of Bradford will help her realise her dream.”

If you would like to donate to send Sophie to the Cheerleading World Championship contact her mother Sharon Austerfield on RICNSHAZ@hotmail.co.uk.

SPREADING Cheer: Sophie Austerfield is hoping to raise enough money to get to the World Cheerleading Championships.