A FEARLESS acrobat from the district is reaching for the stars in his chosen sport.

High flying Jonny Henderson is used to being thrown up into the air, and standing on the shoulders of others.

The Hexham teenager is a member of a male quartet based at the Deerness Gymnastics Academy, at Ushaw Moor in County Durham, who perform a range of daring routines set to music.

Jonny and his teammates Sam Stafford, Marcus Winship, and Aaron Greally, have recently joined up with the Acro National Development Squad at Lilleshall, where they worked with the country’s top coaches.

And Jonny, who is a pupil at Hexham’s Queen Elizabeth High School, is hoping to represent Great Britain later this year.

The youngster has never looked back since he was first introduced to gymnastics at Hexham’s Wentworth Leisure Centre, at a young age.

“Even as a young boy, he was very enthusiastic about gymnastics,” said Jonny’s mum, Lorna. “But there was nothing specifically for boys, so we approached Hexham Gymnastics Club.

“Jonny went with the Hexham gymnastics team to a competition at Deerness, and that was his first introduction to the academy.”

Jonny has a busy summer ahead. He will compete in the English Championships at Newton Aycliffe in May, and his schedule also includes the British Championships, at Liverpool Arena, in July.

If he does well, the teenager could find himself selected to represent Great Britain at October’s European Championships, in Israel.

To perfect his balance, tempo, and a multitude of routines, he attends the Deerness Academy five times each week. Despite training, travel, competition, and kit costs, Jonny receives no sponsorship.

However, he has successfully applied for a grant of £250 from Sport Tynedale, a voluntary-led organisation which recognises and supports local sportspeople.

The organisation, which runs the annual Sport Tynedale Awards, offers grants to talented individuals who are looking to develop their skills at county level or higher.

Lorna added: “This very generous financial support will really help contribute towards Jonny’s ambition to be selected to represent Great Britain.”

Sport Tynedale chairman Edward Heslop said: “It can cost a lot of money to progress to a high level in sport, when you consider the cost of kit, travel and accommodation, event entries and coaching fees.

“We want to help our young sportspeople to meet these demanding financial requirements, and we have grants available which must be applied for.”

All applicants must be members of clubs and organisations in West Northumberland which are affiliated to Sport Tynedale. Volunteer coaches can also apply. As a Hexham resident, Jonny qualified for a grant through Hexham Town Council’s support of Sport Tynedale.

Sport Tynedale is backed by other town and parish councils, and main sponsors Egger UK and Red Hot Property. More information can be found at /www.sport-tynedale.co.uk.