TODAY we are launching an appeal to help Norden High School, Rishton, become a specialist Sports College.
The move would benefit not just the pupils but the whole sporting community of Hyndburn.
In order to achieve government approval and funding the school needs to raise £50,000 through its own efforts.
It is hoping to find 600 sponsors who would each give £50 to support sporting excellence in Hyndburn.
All sponsors will receive a limited edition engraved keying and their names will be displayed on a roll of honour board in the new sports hall, along with the knowledge that their contribution is helping the people of Hyndburn.
The Observer is supporting the appeal and has set the ball rolling by donating the first £100.
Norden already has a reputation for excellent sports facilities open to the community.
A new all-weather pitch was opened earlier this year and will soon be floodlit. And it has recently been successful in a bid for a £1.3m sports hall, which will contain four badminton courts and a fitness suite, along with changing facilities and a reception area.
All its facilities are shared with the community, which uses them in the evenings, at weekends, and during holiday periods for leisure activities.
Currently 45,000 people a year benefit from the facilities and this will rise to over 65,000 with the sports hall.
If the bid for Sports College status is successful, the Department for Education and Skills will give £100,000 to build a learning resource centre plus £126 per pupil for five years - additional funding of over £430,000.
This must be spent two thirds in school and one third in the community.
Work is already underway with three primary schools - St Peter and Paul's, Rishton, Rishton Methodists and Great Harwood Primary School - to identify areas for development.
These could involve coaching courses in specific sports or for age groups that are not well catered for. Norden is also working with North Cliffe Special School in Great Harwood and Mount Carmel Science College in Accrington, which are partners in the bid.
Headteacher Denise Parkinson said: "This is an exciting project which will benefit both the school and the community. But like all initiatives there are hurdles to jump over and for us the main one is needing to raise £50,000 from private sponsorship.
"Many companies have already been contacted and have given either money or raffle prizes and so far £9,000 has been raised. But that still leaves a long way to go before February when the bid must be finalised.''
If you would like to help, fill in the form below and send your donation to Norden High School, making cheques payable to the Friends of Norden. If you want to help but can't afford the full £50 don't worry, just send what you can, as every bit helps.
Every donation of £50 or more will be acknowledged in the Observer.
Hyndburn 600 sponsorship form is on page 5 of the Accrington Observer