While shepherds watched their flocks by night they failed to notice a breakaway faction hoofing it in to North Walsham town centre.

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The woolly tearaways will be spending Advent dotted around 12 shops where it is hoped families will flock to spot them.

They are part of a “Messy Church” project, aimed at making church more inviting and informal for families, through craft-based activities.

The North Walsham initiative has been organised by Methodist Church and Salvation Army members and friends.

Gina Luckwell, schools and outreach worker with the Methodist Church, said they wanted to promote the true meaning of Christmas.

“Santas, penguins and snowmen are not what Christmas is. It’s a Christian festival celebrating the birth of Christ,” said Mrs Luckwell.

“Shepherds were the first people to visit Jesus after he was born. They were the ‘lowest of the low’ and show that Christ is for everybody, not just the middle class and rich.”

Debbie Dale, who runs North Walsham’s Liaison Café with her partner Lee, knitted the sheep with Lee’s mother, Rose Stanford.

Organisers also plan to take a textile nativity set around North Walsham’s Manor Road and Millfield schools, talk to children about the Christmas story and give them leaflets explaining the sheep trail.

Leaflets will also be available in the participating businesses.

Entrants will be invited to hunt for the hidden sheep, make a note of the name given to each by the host shop, and enter their finished list in to a prize draw.

Mrs Luckwell added: “We have asked the shops not to call them all ‘Shaun.’”




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