A CHURCH in Athersley will be holding a weekend of celebrations to mark a new cross that will be placed in the village.

Priest at St Helen’s Church on Laithes Lane, Father Peter Needham, is on a mission to improve the venue and wanted a dedicated memorial space for the village.

“It’s not a war memorial but a place where people can go to reflect and remember,” he said. “I want a focal point for the people of Athersley outside the church where we can lay poppies on Remembrance Day and where mothers can go to remember their children.

“I want it to be a space of remembrance for all people, not just for soldiers.”

Father Needham has organised for a cross to be placed outside the church which sits on the main road.

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“The memorial will be a Calvary cross but made out of wood,” he said. “The reason being is that Athersley was a famous woodland before the war and the cross is to represent St Helen who discovered the crucifix of Jesus.”

Next week, the church will host a series of events in the run-up to the cross’s unveil.

On August 15, the solemnity of the assumption of our lady with solemn mass will take place at 7pm with the blessing of the new memorial garden.

Then on August 16 there will be a summer quiz where teams of five can enter to be in with a chance of winning a cash prize.

Finally on August 18, the dedication of the cross will take place where the memorial will be unveiled.

However, Father Needham has run into a problem as he needs to move the cross from his garden to the memorial site and has called on locals to offer a helping hand.

“I think it would be interesting to get people to carry the cross to the metal plinth it will be on,” said Father Needham. “We need about 20 or so strong people who are willing to help lift a wooden cross that weighs over a tonne.

“I think it will be good at bringing the community together.”

To volunteer to help carry the cross, or for more information, email Father Needham on needham278@aol.com.