THE families of the lost Accrington Pals watched on as 100 balloons were launched to mark the 100 years since the Great War.

Yesterday’s event was part of a day of commemorations which launched a four-year programme of First World War events in Hyndburn.

The ‘historic’ event in Accrington town centre was followed by a memorial service for the Accrington Pals at St John The Evangelist church.

Hundreds of people gathered outside the Broadway office buildings to see the town’s remembrance banner to the Pals unveiled for the first time.

The banner, which wraps around building, above shops such as Greggs, British Heart Foundation, and Nationwide features images of the Accrington Pals, taken from the late historian Bill Turner’s extensive collection.

Mr Turner dedicated much time to researching the history of the Pals and wrote a number of books about them.

His wife, Ruth, was a guest of honour at the launch and said: “I feel both proud and honoured to represent Bill and think the banner looks wonderful.

“So much work has gone into it and the Accrington Pals are so very, very important to the town.

“I think it’s very fitting that the banner is right at the heart of the town centre where shoppers and visitors will be able to see it and remember.”

The programme of activities which will run from 2014 to 2018 in Hyndburn, alongside the national commemorations of the First World War, have been organised by the Accrington Pals Centenary Commemorations Group.

The group includes members of the community, Pals experts, historians, craftspeople, people involved in drama, voluntary groups and the council.

Mayor of Hyndburn Judith Addison said: “The event was wonderful and it was so special to be there as the mayor.

“I didn’t think it would happen during my time as mayor and I really do feel as though I have been a part of history.

“I am delighted to have been involved of the launch of the four years worth of projects that we having coming up. It’s very exciting.”