MEMBERS of a youth group have been taking ownership of their town by cleaning a memorial to one of the area's most famous people.

A group of four young people from Zac's Youth Bars, based in Market Street, Farnworth, made the decision after they noticed that the recently installed Mary Barnes memorial in Farnworth Park had become "a bit grubby".

Armed with soapy water and cleaning gear, the team spent 45 minutes cleaning the stone monument, to remove stains on the side.

Tracey Wilkinson, community engagement coordinator at Zac's, said: "We sometimes do activities in the park and when one of our group's was walking past they were asking what the memorial was for and saying it was a shame about what had happened to it.

"They want to take some ownership of it now by looking after it and keeping an eye on it."

Before starting the clean, the group had approached Bolton Council and were advised on the type of cleaning products which could be used, without causing any damage of staining to the stone monument.

The memorial was first unveiled in May 2018 to celebrate the work of the pioneering suffragist Mary Barnes, who was born in Stalybridge but made her home in Farnworth.

The date marked 100 years since women over 30 and all men over 21 won the right to vote, after a movement driven by suffragist like Ms Barnes.

She used her position to improve housing, health, education, living and working conditions for the people of Farnworth.

In 1922, she became the first female councillor for the town and was a county magistrate for more than 20 years.

Barnes was also an integral part of the Bolton Women's Citizens Association, formerly called the Bolton Suffrage Society, and acted as their presidents from 1924 until her death in 1942.

Unfortunately, the memorial - which originally had a small fence surrounding it - was vandalised just weeks after it was unveiled.

The wooden fence panels were ripped out of the ground and the fencing had to be removed later.

There has also been some evidence of graffiti drawn on the memorial and residents in the area have reported seeing people climbing on the stone on several occasions.