RELATIVES of people who died in the First World War are being encouraged to contact the organisers of a project to replace and clean up 120 missing and damaged graves.

Haslingden-based military charity Veterans in Communities was awarded a £10,000 Heritage Lottery Fund grant to carry out the project at Bacup Cemetery and Whitworth Memorial Gardens.

The works will also include creating a publicly-available archive of life stories of those from the area who fought and died in the Great War as part of the cenentary commemorations later this year.

Volunteers will also be spreading 150 grams of Flanders poppy seeds at the two sites.

Research into the soldiers’ stories has begun, and physical work on the graves will start in March.

Project Leader Peter Webster said: “We want relatives to get in touch with us before we start work, and give them the chance to tell us anything they know about the person buried there, or ask us not to touch the grave if they don’t want us to.

“We need permission to do the work, but if we aren’t contacted in two months then we will go ahead with it, because that’s an ample amount of time.

“The next step is to get plinth stones for the unmarked and missing head stones, with the rank, number, name, the date they died and their age, hopefully.

“We’ve been working with local stonemason Chiselhursts, and Wendy Lord of Bacup Natural History Society.

“This is the history of the town, and it is important to be able to share it with people now, and educate children about the war.

“We want to get everything done by Remembrance Day this year.”

To contact the group about the project, call Veterans in Communities on 01706 833180.