A treasure trove of priceless memorabilia from the Apollo moon landings will form part of an open evening this month.
The items were discovered in a box at the Holy Spirit R C School, Heckmondwike, and date back to the 1960s when the pupils wrote a prayer to the Apollo 10 astronauts wishing them luck on their voyage.
The parish priest at the adjoining church at the time was Father Paddy Roche, a great friend of the Apollo astronauts, and they famously gave him the golf ball which they had played with on the moon.
The memorabilia came to light when church member and school governor Peter Moreland found the box in the school.
“I found the original copy of the prayer which was signed by the then headteacher Tony Monaghan, Father Roche and Eugene Cernan, who was the lunar module pilot,” he said.
“There is also the official invitation from Eugene Cernan to Father Roche to attend the Apollo 10 launch on May 18, 1969.
“It was an incredible find. The items are unique.”
The items will form part of a display that the church is organising on Monday August 19 at 7.30pm at Heckmondwike RAFA Club in Darley Street. The club was previously St Patrick’s School, which closed down in 1968 when the Holy Spirit School opened. Now Peter is hoping that former pupils from the Spen Valley, Batley, Birstall and Dewsbury will come along to see the memorabilia, and possibly bring along material for a book church members are compiling to commemorate its centenary next year.
“We had an open day in June which was really popular, but some people said they couldn’t come along because it was during the day,” he added.
“So we decided to hold another in the evening, and thought it would be really interesting to hold it at the RAFA Club. We contacted the club to see if they could help out. Unfortunately the club is closing this month, but they very kindly said they would open up specially for us.”
As well as the Apollo memorabilia, there will be photographs plus information on author G K Chesterton who was a great friend of Father O’Connor, the parish priest at the time the church was built and who was the model for Chesterton’s Father Brown. Father Brown character on Father O’Connor.
“It will be a very special night, a chance to look at some unique items, bring along some more memories for the book and it’s also a last chance to see the old school before it becomes whatever it becomes,” added Peter.
Anyone who can help the appeal can call Peter on 01924 501774 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.