A CONTROVERSIAL community hub will be part of the Churches Conservation Trust’s golden anniversary tour in aid of heritage crime prevention.

The charity’s chief executive Peter Aiers will attempt to raise £50,000 by visiting 50 UK churches in 50 hours including All Souls' Church, Astley Street, between 2am and 2.25am on Friday, July 26.

A huge £4.5m was invested by the trust to turn the church into a community centre in 2014 but The Bolton News reported it was in financial trouble in 2016 due to a lack of people using it.

Mr Aiers explained why the money from The Great National Steeplechase is needed to tackle church-related crime, saying: “From our 553 churches, we carry a repair liability of £2m just for lead theft, for example.

“That’s an impact we wouldn’t have budgeted for and we have to raise that on top of everything else we’ve got to do every year just to keep buildings maintained and efficient.”

The investment that reopened All Souls' after 26 years of closure added modern interior structuring to make it suitable for its new purpose.

Chairman Inayat Omarji wgho left his post to pursue other interests has since returned and will welcome the charity’s boss when he arrives in the middle of the night.

On the church’s progress, Aiers said: “The church now has a viable economic purpose and a really bright future.

“I saw some footage on Twitter of the community sitting in there watching England win the Cricket World Cup, and that was fantastic.”

The 45-year-old will be driven to the Bolton leg of the challenge, but he’ll enjoy a boat ride down the Thames and travel to other sections in a helicopter, rickshaw and even on a unicycle.

Donations can be made via the trust’s website.