BACK in 1967, a Burnley church pioneered a new form of public service – launching the town’s first pre-school playgroup.

Elim Methodist Church ran the venture with morning sessions for youngsters, three times a week.

The scheme was designed for parents who wanted to ease their children through the problems of starting school.

The group was open to anyone in the town and the charge was 10s per child, per week. Playgroup leader was Pat Gardner.

Derek Smith, secretary of Elim playgroup committee, said at the time: “We feel this is a public service which the church should perform. After all, the first schools were opened by the churches.”