Teen netball ace who plays for England given £1K donation to pursue dream

James Firminger
James Firminger

A netball player, who plays as part of England’s first all-male side, is one of the latest teens to be awarded funding by a local charity.

Sixteen-year-old James Firminger, from Burnley, has been given a £1,000 donation from Dan’s Trust, a charity which helps talented youngsters in Lancashire to fulfil their potential.

James became interested in the sport when he started watching his mum, Bernadine, play at Burnley Netball Club when he was five-years-old.

Lancashire Telegraph:  James Firminger
Lancashire Telegraph: James Firminger

James Firminger

He has been practicing and training for close to eight years after he started playing for the mixed team at his primary school.

James said: “I currently train at Belle Vue Sports Village in Manchester for two hours on a Saturday.

“I go to Moss Side Millennium Powerhouse Manchester every Wednesday evening for the Manchester Spartans.

“I also play at national level, as I was selected to be in the first England Men’s Netball Team, The Thorns.”

With the £1,000 donation, James will be able to attend more games and training camps without relying on his parents.

He said: “My parents help me travel to training, netball camps and games.

“As there is no funding at all for either the Spartans or England team my family pays for everything including travel, accommodation, kit and food.

“Some of these camps and games require a two or three night stay, so the costs can be high.”

James said he would love to make it to the Olympics in 2032 if Netball is accepted as an Olympic sport.

As well as supporting James, Dan’s Trust has also sponsored 15-year old gymnast Finn Connolly from Barrow, under-16 Manchester United player Matilda Crawshaw, and 14-year-old gymnast, Genevieve Metcalf from Blackburn.

Dan's Trust was founded by Peter and Shelagh Bagshaw of Clitheroe, together with their sons Ian and Gary in 2012.

The charity was established after the death of their son and brother, Dan, who was 27 when he died on the finish line of an ITU Olympic distance triathlon in Hong Kong after suffering from a sudden and unexplained arrhythmia.

Dan was a cycling enthusiast and extremely talented and athletic young lawyer.

Co-founder and trustee, Ian Bagshaw, said: “With the 10th Anniversary of Dan’s sudden passing upon us, we are honoured to be able to continue his legacy by supporting extremely talented teens, like James, in East Lancashire.

“So many young people from the area missed out on opportunities to practice and develop their sport due to the impact of covid-related lockdowns, and we’re hopeful that our Make a Difference funding will help them make up some lost ground by paying for extra courses and equipment.”

As well as its successful awards programme, Dan’s Trust promotes and funds research into the early diagnosis of cardiac risk in the young, as well as the improvement of treatment methods for sudden cardiac arrest at Sheffield University and Imperial College London.