Civic leaders this week backed our appeal to raise £50,000 to save the Accrington Pals’ Memorial Chapel inside the beautiful and historic St John’s Church.
The appeal, launched in last week’s paper, has got off to a flying start, with a number of donations from readers.
Hyndburn Council leader Peter Britcliffe said: "I am delighted that the Observer has launched this campaign. I think it is a very worthwhile cause which I am happy to support.
"I urge people to rally round and support something which is obviously very important to our area.
"The Accrington Pals are close to many people’s hearts and it is important that we remember our war dead and do all we can to help the church stay open."
Hyndburn MP Greg Pope said: "This is an excellent campaign and I am really glad that the Observer has launched it.
"The story of the Accrington Pals still has a huge resonance in the town and nationally. Whenever people from outside the area hear that I represent Accrington, they always tell me they have heard of the Pals.
"I am really happy to support this appeal and I urge people to get behind it."
Labour group leader Councillor Graham Jones said: "We are determined that the Accrington Pals’ Chapel and St John’s Church must be saved.
"Myself and Councillor Clare Pritchard have already been working hard behind the scenes to see what can be done, and at the next meeting of Peel and Barnfield Area Council we are going to see if funds can be made available. It would be great if cash could also be provided from the council’s capital budget programme."
From the Asian community, Councillor Munsif Dad said: "The church and chapel both provide a very valuable service to the community and I urge people to support the campaign to help keep them open.’’
A spokesman for the Accrington branch of the Royal British Legion said: "We strongly support this appeal and hope the chapel stays where it is.
"Accrington is renowned for the Pals and since that is where the memorial chapel is now, that is where it should stay. The memory of the Pals is very important to the borough."
The 143-year-old church on Addison Street has been temporarily closed because of electrical faults.
A total of £50,000 would guarantee the immediate future of the building – an ambitious total but we believe our readers can rise to the challenge.
An application has been made to English Heritage to meet the rest of the repair cost on the grade two listed building.
St John’s Church has an historic link with the Pals as it was where they held a valedictory service before marching to the railway station, watched by 16,000 people, to train for battle.
Eventually, they met their grim fate when they were ordered "over the top" at the Battle of the Somme in 1916, where 235 Pals were killed and 350 wounded in less than 20 minutes.
Over the years, supporters including the noted Pals historian, the late Bill Turner, argued that not enough had been done to remember Accrington’s greatest heroes.
The chapel was established in 1992 and a service has been held there every year since.
* In the unlikely event that the aim of the fund is not achieved, all money received on behalf of the PCC of St John’s will be used to help suitably relocate the Pals’ Chapel and its artefacts. It will not be possible to return any donations or other money raised. The financial records will be audited and made available to public scrutiny if written notice is given and expenses met.