A RIBBLE Valley community stalwart has been invited to travel to Europe to help commemorate the start of the World War One, alongside royalty.

Mel Diack, 61, of Mitton Road, Whalley, was invited by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to attend the event, at St Symph-orien Military Cemetery, in Mons, Belgium, on Monday, August 4.

Mr Diack, who is the chairman of Clitheroe Youth Forum, lost his great-great uncle, William Bathgate, during the war.

Private Bathgate served in the Gordon Highlanders, and was killed in action, aged 24, on August 23, 1914, and is buried at St Symphorien Military Cemetery. Also attending the ceremony will be the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince George.

Mr Diack said: “The research for tracing the relatives of those who lost family members has been carried out by History Angels and, with so many lives lost and the number of families living today, I have been rather fortunate to have been selected, along with several hundred others for this event.

“It’s a great honour to be invited to go over and be part of this, and pay my respects.

“Our family, along with millions of other people across the world, lost so many.

“I feel very honoured to have been asked to go and it will be very emotional.

“I intend to represent everyone I know there.

“I got the letter yesterday morning, and I just could not believe it. I was utterly blown away by the invitation.

“And it’s amazing that royalty are going to be there as well.

“I have a love for history, and I fully understand the significance of this event,” he added.

Mel, alongside his friend and neighbour George Hard- man, are currently trying to get a new war memorial erected in Blackburn.

They are appealing for family members to get in contact with Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council to help them com-plete the list of soldiers who fell during the war.