A FIRST World War memorial that suffered a spate of vandalism has been 'adopted' by a school.

The memorial soldier, in Flint,

was defaced after swastikas and homophobic graffiti

were drawn on it,

before it suffered fire damage earlier this month


But following the move of Flint High School

to raise money towards the restoration of the memorial soldier

, situated on the Wales Coastal Path, the school has gone a step further and adopted the sculpture to ensure its ongoing care and maintenance.

The idea came after discussions between members of the school council, Jim Connelly, headteacher, and Mike Taylor, coastal ranger with the Flintshire Countryside Service, who initially installed the sculpture with artist, Mike Owens.

Some of the students’ initial thoughts include working parties to carry out regular and emergency repairs, creating a display at the site telling the story of Flint’s war heroes, planting the area with bulbs and poppies, and setting up a social media page to raise awareness of the sculpture and what he represents.

A strategic meeting will be held at the school early next month to develop a working plan.

In the meantime, a group of students have already spent a morning helping to restore the soldier to his former glory.

Mr Taylor said: “I can’t express enough my appreciation to the school and the students for everything they have already done, and the decision to adopt the soldier is absolutely fantastic.

“The students working here this morning have really got stuck in. They’ve sanded, scraped and cleaned the damaged areas and applied fresh paint. His buttons and belt buckle have been polished with wire wool and he’s now looking as good as new.

" It is so heart-warming to think that they have taken it upon themselves to respond with such positivity and enthusiasm. I am very impressed and touched by this, as is Mike, the artist. They are a credit to the school.”

Mr Connelly said the vandalism has impacted greatly on the students and has expressed his pride in the reaction of the students.

He said: “We were quite moved when members of our school council first came to us to see what could be done to help towards the restoration work. Since then, things have gained momentum and so many suggestions came forward that we can now put into practice as part of the adoption programme.

“Students from the school council worked hard and took great pride in helping to restore the soldier. They have done a superb job.”

Councillor Ian Roberts, Flintshire Council leader and Flint Town Councillor, said: “I am delighted that the school has taken the decision to adopt the soldier.

This reinforces the school’s strength of commitment to the local community and the students are to be commended on their actions.

"I will personally support the adoption and urge others in the community to do the same."

Surveillance cameras in the vicinity have been modified to watch over the soldier. The Countryside Service has also recruited volunteers to help look after the coast and the soldier and report any suspicious activity.

Members of the public who would like to support the school’s adoption of the soldier can do so by calling in person at the school with either cash or a cheque.