Real-life donkeys star in village’s walking nativity

James Dougherty meets the donkeys who were part of the Cawston Walking Nativity 2019. Picture: Neil

James Dougherty meets the donkeys who were part of the Cawston Walking Nativity 2019. Picture: Neil Perry/Archant - Credit: Archant

A record number of people joined in with a village's walking nativity as two donkeys took part for the first time.

James Dougherty meets the donkeys who were part of the Cawston Walking Nativity 2019. Picture: Neil

James Dougherty meets the donkeys who were part of the Cawston Walking Nativity 2019. Picture: Neil Perry/Archant - Credit: Archant

For four years, Cawston team vicar Revd Andrew Whitehead has dreamed of finding a dramatic donkey to play a starring role in what has become a firm favourite in the village calendar.

Earlier this week, following yet another unsuccessful search, he launched a casting call for donkeys destined to perform to lend a helping hand - or rather, helping hoof.

James Dougherty meets the donkeys who were part of the Cawston Walking Nativity 2019. Picture: Neil

James Dougherty meets the donkeys who were part of the Cawston Walking Nativity 2019. Picture: Neil Perry/Archant - Credit: Archant

Thankfully this year his prayers were finally answered, as not one but two donkeys were put forward to take part in Sunday's (December 15) festivities.

Participants dressed as their favourite characters from the nativity story as they walked through the village and stopped at The Bell to see if there was any room at the inn.

James Dougherty meets the donkeys who were part of the Cawston Walking Nativity 2019. Picture: Neil

James Dougherty meets the donkeys who were part of the Cawston Walking Nativity 2019. Picture: Neil Perry/Archant - Credit: Archant


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"I've been trying for four years to get donkeys along to this event, but they're surprisingly hard to find," said Revd Whitehead.

"This year we've been helped out by some really kind people who brought two donkeys with them and it has just made the day perfect."

James Dougherty meets the donkeys who were part of the Cawston Walking Nativity 2019. Picture: Neil

James Dougherty meets the donkeys who were part of the Cawston Walking Nativity 2019. Picture: Neil Perry/Archant - Credit: Archant

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During the nativity, dozens of villagers and visitors reenacted Mary and Joseph's journey to Bethlehem, many of them wearing dressing gowns, improvised angel wings and tea towel head-dresses.

Those taking part enjoyed a mulled wine at The Bell before heading to St Agnes' Church for carol singing alongside Cawston Primary Academy Choir.

James Dougherty meets the donkeys who were part of the Cawston Walking Nativity 2019. Picture: Neil

James Dougherty meets the donkeys who were part of the Cawston Walking Nativity 2019. Picture: Neil Perry/Archant - Credit: Archant

With a packed schedule of festive events in store, Revd Whitehead emphasised the importance of making the church more accessible to everyone.

He added: "Through our Christmas events, different people come to different things depending on what they are,

James Dougherty meets the donkeys who were part of the Cawston Walking Nativity 2019. Picture: Neil

James Dougherty meets the donkeys who were part of the Cawston Walking Nativity 2019. Picture: Neil Perry/Archant - Credit: Archant

"We've got lots of people here today who probably won't come to our carol service this evening or on Christmas Eve, but they come to the walking nativity because it's something that appeals to children and is just a bit of fun.

"In coming out of the church, we're taking the message away from the building and removing that barrier so people don't feel intimidated by the huge medieval building.

"I think it helps sometimes to take the message out and save them the trouble of coming to us."

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