THE Bishop of Blackburn today urged people not to forget the Accrington Pals as he threw his weight behind a campaign to save the church dedicated to their memory.

The Rt Rev Alan Chesters spoke out after the vicar of St John's CE Church, Accrington, revealed £150,000 was needed to ensure the church's role in the community is preserved for the next 100 years.

The Addison Street church (pictured), which was one of the last meeting places for the young men of the town before they left for their deaths on the battlefields of the Somme in the First World War, is riddled with dry rot and damp has spread across one of its walls.

It is not known just how far the dry rot spreads across the roof beams, but the damage found so far will cost at least £75,000 to repair.

The church tower is already out of bounds after being deemed unsafe and vicar, the Rev Ian Robertson, fears the costs of repairing the church could spiral.

The church has only just managed to save enough money to repair storm damage caused in 1997.

Inside the church is the Accrington Pals Chapel, which contains a plaque, book of memorial and flags.

Mr Chesters said: "I would urge the community around St John's to come forward and help the church out.

"This is a very significant place for Accrington because of the chapel within the church.

"What the Accrington Pals did was very important and very heroic and this chapel has served as a wonderful tribute to them. That must not be allowed to be forgotten."

Mr Robertson is optimistic the community will take up the rallying cry.

He said: "We want to make this church much more of a community venue.

"As well as paying for the repairs we want to create a community centre at the back of the church.

"We don't know what the full cost will be but we are hoping £150,000 will cover the repairs and help us to create a community room."

Hyndburn Mayoress Sandra Hayes has already pledged to get the council involved in the appeal.