Shire Horse Sanctuary hosts West Runton Christmas Fair

A nativity scene with a difference and a name the donkey competition were some of the many attractions to draw people from far and wide to an animal sanctuary's Christmas Fair.

The Hillside Shire Horse Sanctuary in West Runton hosted its second seasonal celebration this weekend, which this time saw the event run over two days due to demand.

Running from 11am to 4pm, visitors to the tinsel-strewn event had a range of stalls selling everything from locally-made chutneys and wines through to bric-a-brac to choose from as well as carols to enjoy.

Meanwhile, those venturing into the main barn would have been met with a live nativity scene, which included some of the animals that the centre cares for.

The sanctuary's founder Wendy Valentine, who explained that the donkeys had been kept separate from the models of Mary and Joseph for fear they might start nibbling them, labelled the fair a success.

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She said: 'We have been exceptionally busy this weekend and after it started off foggy the weather really improved and has been brilliant so we have had hundreds and hundreds of visitors, and I've been really pleased with how things have worked out.

'There was a nice friendly atmosphere and we sold a lot of mince pies and animal friendly Christmas cake.'

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Hopes are that the amount raised for the from the weekend for the sanctuary will beat the total collected last time for the centre, which was believed to be between �2000 to �3000.

The Shire Horse Sanctuary is a part of Hillside Animal Sanctuary, which was set up in 1995 to look after maltreated or unwanted animals.

Ms Valentine said that the turnout had justified the decision to run the festive show over two days, and added that the money would go a long way towards helping care for the animals.

And while Father Christmas was on hand to keep the youngsters entertained, there were also prizes up for grabs thanks to a number of tombolas.

Sheyrl Benson had raised �300 on Saturday after running her own tombola with a friend, but said demand was so high they had sold out by 2pm.

She said: 'It's been really lovely, and a lot of people have brought their dogs along which are rescued animals, and everyone is getting on really well. Though it was quite nippy earlier the sun came out for us and it has all gone a treat.

'It's good we have events like this because it helps spread the word as to the importance of rescuing animals and looking after them.'

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