A VILLAGE is raising money to create a memorial to honour its war dead.

The sandstone monument will feature a cross with a soldier’s helmet and be placed in Holy Trinity Church in Pelton, near Chester-le-Street.

The graveyard already has more than 40 military graves and it will be a permanent memorial for people in the village killed in conflicts since the First World War.

Pelton Parish Councillor Miriam Lonsdale-Cope’s grandfather was a stretcher bearer who died at the Battle of the Somme.

Former miner Joseph Ayre, from Framwellgate Moor, who was 32 and a father-of-three, worked as a miner before he joined 12th Battalion Durham Light Infantry.

He was a private and was killed on July 17, 1916, just over two weeks into the offensive on the Western Front.

Councillor Lonsdale-Cope said: “He died in the Somme so there was no body returned.

“My family did not have grave to go to mourn and take flowers to. It is important we remember these men. They gave their today for our tomorrow.”

The parish council has been fundraising since last year’s centenary commemorations and has so far raised almost £17,000 towards the target of £25,000.

There is currently a shortfall for £8,368.

Parish Councillor Stephen Hann said: “Pelton does not have a war memorial, which is unusual for a pit village. We have done quite well so far but we are not quite there yet.”

A tombola organised by Pelton Grange Care Home, in Pelton, held at the Co-Op on Front Street recently, raised £130 for parish council’s war memorial fund.

Alongside selling tickets, carers and support staff donated their own money to the project.

Christopher Hogan-Hind, the care home manager, said: “It’s been a privilege to support the project. It’s so important that we commemorate those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

“Many of our residents remember the loss of family members in the world wars and it is a comfort to them knowing their community is remembering them.”

To get involved with the project contact parish council clerk Joanne Dickinson by calling 0191-370-1969, email clerk@peltonparishcouncil.gov.uk or to donate visit justgiving.com/crowdfunding/peltonwarmemorial