A giant collage to back Wales’s glorious run in the Euro 2016 football championships has been handed over to the talented young artists who created it.
The masterpiece based on four huge discs celebrating Wales’s qualification for the international tournament for the first time since 1958 has been on display at the Eagles Meadow shopping centre in Wrexham since June.
The work of art hailing the town’s rich footballing heritage was specially crafted by pupils from Alexandra Community Primary School and St Giles VC Church in Wales Primary School under the guidance of professional artists.
The collage also salutes legendary goalkeeper Leigh Roose from Wrexham.
He played for Wales against Ireland at the Racecourse ground in 1906, when the game became the subject of the first surviving film of an international match, but just 10 years later was tragically killed at the Battle of the Somme while serving in the First World War.
Commissioned by Eagles Meadow, the collage took pride of place there throughout the competition in which Wales memorably battled to a semi-final place.
And with its job more than adequately done, various parts of the artwork were handed over to the patriotic pupils from the two schools who lovingly crafted it.
The artwork’s quartet of discs, each measuring four feet in diameter, depict several powerful symbols such as the red dragon which is the badge of the Welsh FA, the legendary Wrexham-born goalkeeper Leigh Roose, the Euro 2016 trophy and text describing the whole project.
The discs also feature the Welsh words `Gorau, Chwarae, Cyd, Chwarae’, which form the motto of the Welsh FA, `Best Play Together Play’.
Pictures on each one were built up by the children using layers of vinyl in mainly red and green, the national colours of Wales.
Children who helped to create the collage went to Eagles Meadow with their teachers to collect the panels.
One of them was eight-year-old Theo Evans from Wrexham who is a pupil at St Giles. He said: “We’re taking the disc with the big red dragon on it back to our school, which is good as we all worked on it.
“I enjoyed doing it very much. It was lots of fun and I think it looked great when we’d finished it.
“While the collage was up on the wall of the shopping centre I came along with my parents to see it and I was very proud that I’d helped to do it, especially as Wales did so well.”
His fellow St Giles artist Angelina Howett, eight, from Wrexham said: “Doing the big dragon was the best part of it and making sure everything was right by fitting together all the shapes was fun to do.
“People from my family all came to see it and that made me feel good for doing it.”
Teaching assistant from St Giles Claire Addison said: “Making the collage was a very good exercise and the children learned a lot from it.
“Everyone at school is still talking about it, so it’s good that we’re bringing the parts we worked on back.”
On hand to collect the Leigh Roose panel which they created for the collage was a group of pupils from Alexandra.
Amongst them was nine-year-old Maya Ratajewska from Wrexham, who admitted that her allegiance was split between her parents’ home country of Poland and Wales as she watched Euro 2016.
But she said: “I’m glad Wales did so well and that our collage helped people in Wrexham cheer them on. I enjoyed working on our part of the collage very much.”
And Andrew Stevens, also nine and from Wrexham, said: “I enjoyed fitting all the colours together and seeing how it all looked when it went up on the wall at Eagles Meadow. I followed Wales right through the competition and was glad they got to the semi-final stage.”
Alexandra Year 5 teacher Joshua Jones said: “It was a very valuable project for the children to be involved and it was a real bonus that Wales did so well in the tournament. It definitely grabbed their attention and it’s good to be bringing the parts of the collage they worked on back to our school.”
Eagles Meadow manager Kevin Critchley said: “Everyone who saw and admired it thought the children did a marvellous job on the collage and we like to think that it helped spur Wales on to the final stage on Euro 2016.
“It’s actually now a little piece of Wrexham’s proud footballing heritage in its own right which means it was fitting to hand it over to the very talented pupils who worked so hard on it.”