ARTISTIC youngsters came out in force to fly the flag for Wales’s Euros 2016 challenge at a Wrexham shopping centre.
Eagles Meadow has been holding a series of special events as part of its campaign to back the national team in the big international football tournament.
The latest of these came when scores of soccer crazy kids flocked to the centre to let their artistic skills take flight in a free day-long flag-making workshop.
The aim was for them to come up with their own stunning interpretations of the Welsh dragon flag just before it flutters over the Stade Bordeaux-Atlantique in the French city of Bordeaux for Wales’s opening game against Slovakia on Saturday June 11.
The young designers’ efforts were far from standard as they came up with a colourful array of creations ranging from glittering golden dragons to more traditional images of the iconic mythical beast in vibrant red and green.
Early contributions to the workshop came from brother and sister Joshua and Imogen Lancaster, aged 11 and five respectively, who were there with their nine-year-old cousin Nisha Prydden.
They were all brought along from their homes in Coedpoeth by Joshua and Imogen’s mum, Natalie Lancaster.
She said: “We were having a day out shopping when we saw the flag workshop going on and all three of the children just had to take part.
“I think it’s great the way Eagles Meadow has tried to involve them in Euros 2016 during the holidays when they can get a bit bored.”
Joshua, who revealed that he was a big football fan, supporting Everton and Wales, said: “I’m excited that Wales will be in the championship and I can’t wait to see their first game against Slovakia.
“I think they’ve got a really good chance, in that game and the whole tournament.
“I’ve done a golden dragon on my flag today to help them on their way.”
Nisha said she was also a football fan and would be watching Wales’s progress in the tournament while waving the glittery golden dragon flag she coloured in.
“We weren’t expecting to be making flags when we came out shopping but this has been lots of fun,” she added.
Three-year-old Pippa Owens was clearly a football fan as she turned up at the workshop wearing her own Liverpool FC kit.
She’d come along with her big brother, eight-year-old Lewis Owens, with their mum Ceri Arkinstall from their home in Rhostyllen.
“Pippa is football mad and supports Liverpool but she’s also into the Wales team and will be watching them in Euros 2016,” said Ceri.
Pippa, whose brilliant version of the Welsh dragon is shimmering red and green drew admiring glances from the other young artists, said: “I’ve really enjoyed doing this because I’m supporting Wales in the Euros.”
Brother Lewis, who chose the same two colours for his flag, said: “I’m a Liverpool FC fan, too but that won’t stop me supporting Wales in the tournament.”
Lining up to draw and colour their own flags were four young members of the Davies family from Tanyfron in Wrexham – Lily, eight, Layla, seven, Lowri, four, and one-year-old Lennon.
Their mum, Kirsty Davies, said: “It was nice to be able to join in the workshop while we were out shopping.
“Their dad is a massive Manchester United fan, so they’re all keen on football and Wales being in the big tournament will give them something to shout about.”
Taking time out from creating her more traditional red and green dragon design, Layla said: “I like watching Manchester United on the TV but I’ll also be watching Wales playing and I’ll have my flag with me when I see them on the TV.”
Big sister Lily said: “It’s been great doing a flag for Wales. I’ve done a red and green dragon on one side and one with glitter around its body on the other.
“I like doing art and at school I’ve done some big pictures. I’ll be putting this one up at home and watching Wales on TV.”
Eagles Meadow manager Kevin Critchley said: “The idea of the flag-making workshop was to get everyone behind the Wales team in Euro 2016 by encouraging the children to come up with their own designs on our national flag.
“We wanted them to be as creative as possible – and that’s just what happened.
“We had a procession of really talented children taking part in the workshop throughout the day and some of their designs were really fantastic.
“While on one side of the flag they were drawing and colouring in a more traditional image of the Welsh dragon in red, green and white, they were then using the opposite side to produce some really striking versions using gold and silver glitter.
“They all loved being able to take part and I’m really impressed with all of the flags they produced.”
Kevin added: “A number of the stores and restaurants in the centre joined in the action, including The Entertainer toy shop which came up with some really great goody bags while other shops and restaurants arranged money-off coupons.
“From what I could see it looks like lots of Wrexham youngsters will be following the tournament and, of course, backing Wales all the way.”
Also as part of its backing for Wales’s bid for Euro 2016 glory, Eagles Meadow recently unveiled a huge collage which will take pride of place at the centre for the duration of the tournament.
The artistic masterpiece, created by children from Alexandra and St Giles primary schools in Wrexham with the help of professional artists, celebrates the national team’s first Euros qualification since 1958 and also the area’s rich footballing heritage.
On four 4ft wide discs it depicts Wales’s historic match at the Racecourse ground against Ireland in 1906, which became the subject of the first surviving film of an international game, and also salutes legendary goalkeeper Leigh Roose from Wrexham who was the Wales goalkeeper and just 10 years later was tragically killed at the Battle of the Somme while serving in the First World War.
At the collage’s official unveiling it was hailed by the town’s Assembly Member, Lesley Griffiths, as a “fabulous gesture of support” by bosses at Eagles Meadow.