Parents fork out in their search for a star

PUSHY parents are spending up to £11 billion a year trying to turn their gifted children into the next Lewis Hamilton, Andy Murray or even a future soap star, research claimed yesterday.

Many turn to bank loans, second jobs and selling items on auction sites like eBay to fund lessons and tuition that could turn their youngsters into the next sporting champion or television celebrity.

Formula 1 star Hamilton and tennis hero Murray were both famously coached in their respective sports from a very early age as their parents and others spotted their potential early on.

Many stars from TV shows such as EastEnders, films and West End productions are the products of theatre and stage schools.

One in six parents hopes their offspring will turn a childhood hobby or interest into a profession and are willing to dip into their pockets to help them.

The average parent pays 800 a year financing a child's extra curricular activities and as many as 10 per cent pay up to 2,000 a year to do so.

Among those pushy parents who spend the most, 23 per cent have sold items on internet auction sites for a bit of extra cash, while 22 per cent have taken a second, often part-time, job to boost funds.

The survey of 1,000 parents found 8 per cent had gone to the limit on their credit cards for their children, 5 per cent had taken out loans and 6 per cent had sold something of personal value.

Sporting prowess seems to be the main hope of turning junior into a star, with 31 per cent of parents funding a child's participation in ball sports such as football, rugby and cricket.

A further 9 per cent pay to have a child take part in athletics, and the same proportion fork out on racquet sports, from paying for tennis lessons to funding membership of a club.

Lewis Hamilton's success in his first season in top-level motor racing is having an effect, with 2 per cent of parents now pushing their children into some form of motor sport, such as go-karting.

Away from sport, the arts are also seen by many parents as a potential money-spinner for their own little stars.

More than one in four (26 per cent) pay for music lessons, 23 per cent pay for dance classes and 2 per cent even pay for modelling portfolios.

It is not just fame and fortune, though - 10 per cent of parents have employed out-of-hours educational tutors, often to give their children a helping hand if they are sitting exams for private schools.

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