MEMORIAL stones in a church graveyard were washed away when a wall collapsed – causing £20,000 worth of damage.

Heavy rainfall caused the structure in the grounds of St Paul Peel Churchyard in Little Hulton to collapse without warning.

The damage has affected the first cremation area next to the west door and damaged a number of plots.

Now church representatives, who are contacting insurers, are appealing for help from the community to pay for the damage caused at the site in March – and a garden of remembrance.

Church member Sylvia Phillips, who is co-ordinating the appeal, said: “It is very upsetting. I received a phone call from someone I know who was in tears saying if it went again graves of her family would be affected.

“I have family graves in the church cemetery and can imagine how she feels. You could not tell the wall had been affected but the deluge of rain must have just washed it away Quotes from structural engineers have been obtained to make good the damage which will be in the region of £20,000.”

To keep costs down, the church is thinking of having a grassy embankment instead of a wall, but this would need to be cleared by the church.

Headstones which also fell because of the heavy rainfall have been rescued and placed at the side of the church.

Mrs Phillips described the church as a focal point of the community, with the cemetery containing family graves.

She said: “The work needs to be done urgently and the people who attend the church are themselves unable to find all the funds repair the damage as well as the upkeep of the church as this must be kept open to meet the needs of the people.”

The grounds of the church contain the graves of ex-servicemen.

“Please help if you can as the people for Little Hulton and the surrounding areas need to be able to rest in peace.”

Mrs Phillips says people have already starting pledging help and the appeal will be officially be launched this week.

Part of the money raised will go towards funding a much needed Garden of Remembrance for people for people to remember their loved ones.

Mrs Philips, who says the church has played a huge part in her life and those of many others, is confident that the community will rally round.

She said: “Little Hulton is a good community and I know that because I have never lived anywhere else.”

To support the appeal send cheques payable to St Paul Peel Church, and on the back write Churchyard Appeal. They should be sent to Sylvia M Phillips, c/o St Paul Peel Parish Community Hall, Manchester Road West, Little Hulton, M38 9EG.