BLACKBURN Cathedral is to be given a £125,000 grant by an Indian tycoon trying to buy Blackburn Rovers.

The Lancashire Telegraph has learned Ahsan Ali Syed will be handing over £25,000 over the next five years to encourage girls to join the choir.

It will provide four new one-year scholarships for female choristers for each of the next five years, called the Ahsan Ali Syed scholarships.

Canon Andrew Hindley said the donation had come 'out of the blue'.

He said: “We were approached by representatives from Mr Syed to consider whether we could receive this money.

“It's a completely personal donation, from his own bank account.

“We’re very, very pleased. People don't normally approach us to give us such a substantial amount of money.”

Canon Hindley said he believed Mr Syed was interested in education and young people and wanted to support the cathedral's work in this field.

He said: “I think we have a very good reputation for the education of young musicians and our new choral scholarship scheme, which began this year, caught his imagination.

“We are very grateful because we have now got enough money to carry on the with our male choral scholars, which are funded by a charity, the Stanhill Trust, and now thanks to Mr Syed, a female choral scholars group.

“As far as I am aware we will be the first cathedral in the country to have female choral scholars in these numbers.”

The cathedral has launched an appeal to find female singers deserving of the scholarships.

A cheque will be presented to Canon Hindley, Richard Tanner, Canon Sacrist and director of music at the cathedral, and Phillipa Hyde, who will be responsible for the scholars’ vocal training, at the cathedral today.

Mr Syed, 36, is the head of Bahrain-Swiss based investment firm Western Gulf Advisory (WGA) and is said to be worth £7bn. He launched a £300m bid to buy Blackburn Rovers in August.

The businessman is one of at least three Indian bidders vying to buy the club.

Sources close to the club said they were unaware of Mr Syed’s gift to the cathedral and said it would have no relevance to any potential deal.