Page last updated at 13:59 GMT, Thursday, 22 April 2010 14:59 UK

Nail-biting wait for UK cheerleaders

By Nick Ravenscroft
BBC's North of England correspondent, Manchester Airport


The UK IndepenDANCE cheerleading team get some practice in while they wait

Among the tens of thousands of travellers desperately hoping flight delays caused by a cloud of volcanic ash will not stop them reaching their destination on time are a group of British cheerleaders hoping to compete in the World Championships.

It has been a gruelling eight months of training, followed by a desperate 24-hour wait camped out at Manchester Airport.

UK IndepenDANCE, a team of cheerleaders representing the UK, are due to compete in the World Championships, which is being held in Florida this weekend.

But Wednesday's flight was cancelled and they have been waiting on standby ever since.

It's everything we've worked for. We might not ever get this opportunity again
Jenny Gittins, cheerleader

It is touch and go whether they will get there in time to compete.

"It's massive - it's the first time a UK team has been entered into the hip-hop competition," says Emmy Gilhooley.

"It's teams from across the world we want to beat - especially the USA," says another cheerleader, Laura Williams.

The troupe from Warrington lines up in a pyramid formation to run through one of their sets. Terminal 2 comes to a standstill as they strut their stuff.

Now or never

With other performers from 60 countries across the world also struggling to reach Disneyland, the International Cheer Union which is organising the championships has put the opening ceremony back.

UK IndepenDANCE cheerleaders
The cheerleaders are due to compete in Florida on Saturday

But only by a day.

"Yesterday we were all really devastated. We were told the flight was cancelled," says Emmy.

"All the girls just said, let's go to the airport and we've been here since one o'clock yesterday."

I ask Jenny Gittins whether they have been crying.

"Can you not see my swollen eyes? If we win we'd be World Champions. It's everything we've worked for. We might not ever get this opportunity again."

As the minutes tick by to take-off a dozen sets of carefully manicured nails are in danger of being savaged. It is now or never.

Finally, a thumbs up from the lady behind the Virgin desk. A collective shriek from the girls who then pogo across the terminal with excitement.

It is on. Watch out USA, here come the Brits.

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