A RESIDENT says he was "absolutely mortified" to see a group of youths throwing gravel at a statue unveiled in honour of a First World war Victoria cross winner.

Andrew Hynes, 55, was walking his dog in Mesnes Park when he says he witnessed a group of youths throwing newly laid gravel from a seating area at the statue of soldier Norman Harvey, which was unveiled in October last year.

READ MORE > Yobs vandalise 'Tommy' soldier silhouette

Andrew said: "I was absolutely disgusted that a group of youths would do that, and to such a war hero.

"It is if they had no concept of what he stood for and had done.

"I was absolutely mortified. They ranged between the ages of about 12 and 15 wearing plain clothes.

"I said to them: 'do you think that's very clever?' The ringleader, smoking an e-cigarette, said: 'yes' so I got my phone out.

"They looked over shouting abuse and scarpered."

Although no lasting damage is believed to have been caused by the incident, the disrespectful action has left residents shocked.

Andrew said he feels greater PCSO patrols during summer evenings would help prevent such situations.

"It is an isolated area I know it is in the park but people walk by," added Andrew, who lives nearby to the park in Newton-le-Willows.

"I remember when I went to the unveiling and someone said it won't be long until it gets vandalised and that stuck with me and struck a cord. And here we are less than a year later.

"I'm just seeking to prick a conscience.

"People are absolutely disgusted."

The statue was revealed last October in honour of the Newton-le-Willows soldier 100 years after he won his VC.

Norman was 19 when he won his medal on October 25, 1918 for his actions in Ingoyhem, Belgium.

Despite his age, when Norman’s battalion was held up and suffering severe casualties from machine-gun fire, he ran forward and engaged the enemy single-handed, killing two, wounding one and capturing 12 men and two guns.

He later used a hidden machine-gun to put the enemy to flight. When night fell, he went out alone and gathered important information. Throughout these actions, Norman was limping as he had a sprained ankle.