Live crib brings joy to city centre

Published Tuesday, 24 December 2013
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The Bethlehem nativity scene has been brought to life in the grounds of a Belfast city centre church with the help of a little pygmy goat called Sparkle and pals.

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Awaiting passersby on a busy back street, the crib has been erected at St Mary's Grotto on Chapel Lane to not only spread the Christmas message, but to raise funds for children in war torn countries.

The crib, which was launched on Friday by schoolchildren from St Mary's Primary School in the city, was lovingly made by a carpenter from Coalisland, Co Tyrone for local humanitarian charity Tuesday's Child.

Dessie Symington said that the wooden crib was a joy to build.

He described the process as "a labour of love" for the innocent children who are suffering all over the world.

"I am also very grateful for the opportunity to make Christmas, in even a small corner of Northern Ireland, a bit better."

We are delighted to host the live crib in the grotto to help war-torn children. We wish you all peace, happiness and the blessings of the Nativity this Christmas.

Fr James Boyle, missionary priest at St Mary's Church

Crowds have been flocking to the crib to capture the scene, say a prayer, and to meet not only Sparkle and Emily the goats, but Henry the donkey, who are on loan from nearby Blackberry Farm.

Orla Sheehan, the event's organiser and founder of Tuesday's Child, said that people of all ages have enjoyed experiencing the live crib.

She told UTV that children coming to visit the 'Away in a Manger' outdoor nativity scene are welcome to take part by dressing up as angels, shepherds or kings, or singing a carol.

Orla said that the animals continue to be a big hit, with lots of stressed out shoppers dropping by to pet them and get their photo taken.

The crib runs until Tuesday, 7 January, during which time donations will be collected for the Tuesday's Child 'Follow Yonder Star' appeal.

All monies raised will be used to buy much needed gifts for children in countries struggling with conflict.

With the Middle East experiencing a bitterly cold winter, children in Syria and Gaza will receive coats, hats, scarves or gloves along with a hot meal. New shoes will be gifted to children in Kenya.

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Expressing her gratitude for donations received so far, Ms Sheehan said: "Our prayer this Christmas is peace for every child born and unborn. We hope the light from this crib will reach out and bring His gift of peace to children who know no peace this Christmas."
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