Away in thon manger! Coalisland carpenter builds life-size crib with REAL animals for Christmas charity appeal

A carpenter from Coalisland has built a life-size crib to help raise money for charity over Christmas.

Dessie Symington took several days to construct the manger for a ‘live crib’ featuring real animals at a church in Belfast city centre.

The Bethlehem nativity scene at St Mary’s on Chapel Lane was launched complete with Mary, Joseph, angels and shepherds, with baby Jesus arriving on Christmas Eve.

Dessie Symington dressed as Joseph for the live crib launch

The life-size manger also features a donkey named Henry, a goat called Emily and baby goat Sparkle.

Pupils from St Mary’s Primary School in Belfast performed carols at the launch on Friday December 20.

Families visiting the free crib are urged to donate towards Belfast-based charity Tuesday’s Child for its Christmas appeal helping children in Syria, Gaza and Kenya.

Mr Symington (58), who played Joseph for the launch, said:

“It was a joy to build the crib and to be part of helping innocent children suffering so much from war in places like Syria and Gaza, so close to Bethlehem.

“There was a great interest in it from children right up to old people.”

Henry the donkey and baby goat Sparkle with some of the children who attended the opening

Fr James Boyle, the Mill Hill missionary priest at St Mary’s, said he was very pleased with the manger.

He said:

“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.”

Tuesday’s Child plans to use donations to send gifts early next year to war-torn children in Syria, Gaza and Kenya.

They will receive clothing such as coats, scarves and gloves to help endure the cold weather, as well as toys. Hot lunch will also be provided.

The life-size crib at St Mary’s on Chapel Lane, Belfast

Children helped in Kenya will also receive new shoes as part of their Christmas gifts.

The crib will remain open until Tuesday January 7 2014.

Visit the charity’s Facebook page for more photos from the live crib launch.

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