Shepherds watched their flocks by night, a little donkey carried Mary to Bethlehem, and wise men followed yonder star on camels.
But piglets took centre stage at a Marlborough carol service on Friday, when children from St Mary's Primary School were each given a hand-carved wooden pig by wood turner Richard Miles.
Mr Miles carved 200 of the little animals, which were presented to children at the end of a carol service at St Mary's Church, during which the children sang 13 carols and songs and told the story of the nativity.
Mr Miles has a long association with the school, and built the school's nativity scene – which includes hand-carved candles – which has delighted children and adults alike for three years.
They might be dressed as shepherds, wise men or even animals, but to their proud parents and grandparents they're all little angels.
Nativity plays kicked off in earnest at schools around the Marlborough area this week, and Marlborough News Online was given access to the dress rehearsal for the performance by St Katharine's School, Savernake.
Wiltshire Police today launched their 2011 Christmas Safety Campaign, with the focus on the prevention of crime and advice on how to keep valuables, homes and vehicles safe.
The festive season is particularly tempting for criminals as they expect to find gifts and high value goods in people’s homes and cars, say the police.
It is important that homeowners keep their house secure and that they take precautions in order to stop opportunistic criminals.
Towns will be very busy and with the increased number of people, police say it will be easier for purse thieves to strike unnoticed.
“So, when out shopping, keep your purse and handbag near you and don’t carry large amounts of cash,” reads the advice.
“Mobile phones and wallets in back pockets are also a target so keep them secure. Be careful at cash machines and when paying with your card, shield your PIN and remember never to give the number to anyone, even bank staff.”
More shoppers mean more cars in car parks, full of goodies for opportunistic thieves. The police advise:
Remove Satellite Navigation systems and clean away suction marks on the window.
Make sure car doors, windows and sun roofs are all properly closed and locked.
Remove your stereo if you can, mark it with the vehicle registration number if you can’t.
Do not leave Christmas presents or other valuables like laptops, mobile phones, handbags, credit cards, cheque books or vehicle documents in your car. If it is unavoidable - place them in the boot and ensure equipment is completely switched off.
Leave your glove box open to show there is nothing in it.
Leave nothing on show - you may know that there is no wallet in your jacket, but a thief will break a window just to check.
If you own a van, make sure you remove tools overnight and display an appropriate sign in the rear window making this clear.
So, you’ve kept your Christmas gifts safe when out shopping; now keep them safe at home:
NEVER open your door to anyone that hasn’t made an appointment, even if you are expecting them always check their identification and if you are at all suspicious contact Wiltshire Police.
All doors should be fitted with a minimum of 5 lever mortice locks
All windows should be fitted with locks except any designated as fire escape
Close and lock all windows and doors when leaving the house, even if you are just going into the garden.
Keep front and back doors locked while you are in your home to prevent persons walking in without your knowledge
Close all windows when leaving a room, especially those at the front of the house.
Double check that all doors and windows are locked at night.
Keep valuable items out of view and reach of windows and doors.
Never leave a spare key in a hiding place like a plant pot or letterbox – a thief knows all the hiding places.
Keep car keys out of sight, never leave them on view in a hallway
Hide financial documents – if someone does break in you don’t want them to also steal from your bank account
Lock tools and ladders away so that a thief cannot use them to break in.
Never leave a shed or garage unlocked, even when you are gardening and especially if it has a connecting door to your property.
Make sure you have good lighting around your property and consider investing in a burglar alarm.
Secure the rear access to your home. A thief is less likely to be seen at the rear of your property.
Make sure any hedging at the front of your property is no higher than one meter. This will allow passersby to see anyone acting suspiciously.
Mark all valuable items with a property marking system identifiable to you.
Take photographs of all jewellery including hallmarks and keep them safe. Do not leave valuable jewellery in a box on your dressing table; it’s the first place a thief will look.
Make a list of the serial number of your electronic items and keep it safe.
Make sure you have up-to-date contents insurance.
Register all electronic items and any others with serial numbers at sites such as www.immobilise.co.uk
Join your local Neighbourhood Watch. If there isn't one, consider setting one up yourself.
And after all the fun of Christmas make sure you don’t put your rubbish out too early, putting your packing and boxes on display will advertise all the new items you have in your home, giving thieves a shopping list to choose from.
Throughout December there will be increased patrols in key areas of Wiltshire towns, particularly during the evenings and weekends when alcohol is a major factor.
Police say they will be working closely with partners to crack down on anti social behaviour. Neighbourhood Policing Teams will also be out and about giving out crime prevention advice and discussing any concerns in the community.
Over the next few weeks, advice will be issued from the Wiltshire Fire Service, NHS and the SARC (Sexual Assault Referral Centre) with essential information on how to keep safe over the festive season.
Chief Superintendant Steve Hedley said: “Christmas should be a time to enjoy and not one to spend detailing the items you have had stolen to a police officer.”
“We encourage everyone to take action as most of the measures we have suggested cost nothing and are very easy to implement.”
“By making sure that you don’t leave gifts and valuables in cars, keeping doors and windows secured, marking property and most importantly reporting any suspicious activity you can help prevent yourself and members of your community from becoming a victim and having Christmas celebrations ruined.”
“Throughout the year, we ask that people keep an eye out for those more vulnerable neighbours and it is important to reiterate this message. Distraction burglars and bogus callers continue to target the elderly and vulnerable and we need your help to stop them. If you see anyone acting suspiciously, take their description and details of any vehicle including direction of travel and call us.”
Further information about crime prevention can be obtained from your local Neighbourhood Policing Team who can be contacted on 101 or visit the website www.wiltshire.police.uk
choirThey did it last year, providing a festive song to surprise Christmas shoppers in Waitrose. And they were then again today (Saturday) in the Marlborough store.
Fifteen members of Marlborough Community Choir, shopping baskets in hand, suddenly gathered between the fruit, cheese and cooked meat stalls and burst into a Ding, Dong song, something they call a flashmob demonstration.
It was partly to entertain the shoppers and partly to hand out leaflets to promote their Christmas, Etc evening at St Peter’s, Marlborough, on December 10 (£7.50 tickets from marlboroughcommunitychoir.org for the 7.30pm performance).
Vanessa LaFaye of the Marlborough Community Choir in singing in Waitrose That’s when the choir, launched 18 months ago by American writer and photographer Vanessa LaFaye, will have the Pewsey Vale songstresses Mother’s Jam as special guest stars, raising funds for Home Start Kennet.
And the choir will be back at Waitrose for an hour-long concert of carols and festive songs at midday on December 17.
“The flashmob today was great fun, thanks to Richard Clare at Waitrose for helping to spring it on the staff as well as the customers,” Vanessa (pictured) told Marlborough News Online.
“The choir has been going for just over a year and the membership has grown to about 40 regulars. We're now gearing up for our fundraising concert on December 10 at St Peter’s.” “Then on 1December 12 we're singing for the residents at Merlin Court and Marlborough Lodge, before ending our Christmas season back at Waitrose on the 17th.”
And she added: “We were thrilled to be invited by Waitrose manager, Andy Davies, who is making a really generous donation of £100 to the choir. We'll be singing for an hour, and hope that it puts the shoppers in a festive mood!”
“Next year, we're very pleased that Hamptons in Marlborough is going to help promote our big concert in aid of Comic Relief on February 25, Singing for Laughs.”
“We really appreciate all the support from the local businesses, especially during such difficult trading conditions.”
Good news Your order number is: VOL012-65140256061
Hundreds of people flocked to We Love Marlborough's Christmas Art Market and Santa's Grotto on Thursday to shop, meet Father Christmas and have arty fun.
The not-for-profit arts organisation hosted a day and evening of events on two floors of the Town Hall, to coincide with the switching on of the Christmas Lights.
Louisa Davison, from We Love Marlborough, said: “We are throughly exhausted but really pleased with how many people came to see Santa, see the stalls and take part in the art activities.”
Upstairs, Santa – accompanied by the Sleigh Belles – met over 100 children, some of whom brought him small gifts, pictures and hand-written letters.
On We Love Marlborough's Facebook page mum Lucy Brenk said: “Santa was worth the wait when we finally met him. Very good with the children,” while Jim Nicolson praised the “great atmosphere.”
And while parents faced long queues at times, children were entertained by a host of activities including face painting, Christmas crafts and the production of a huge Christmas mural, featuring Santa on his sleigh and measuring over four metres by three metres.
Meanwhile downstairs, 13 craftsmen and artists from across Wiltshire – including woodturners, jewellery makers, fine artists and potters – offered visitors the opportunity to buy beautiful handcrafted gifts.
Stall holders enjoyed themselves as much as the shoppers. Victoria Mellor, from Usborne Books, said: “Many thanks to We Love Marlborough team! It was a good event with lots of people bustling around. Look forward to next year.”
And Amanda Horner from Ramsbury Tea Co said: “Thanks for a great market last night; we met some wonderful people and talked a lot of tea!”
Children decorating the giant Christmas muralEager children queue to see SantaEager children queue to see Santa
Marlborough Jazz Festival supporters can make their donations go a little further in December.
For five days only, starting at 10am on Monday, 5 December 2011, donations will be doubled through the Big Give scheme's Christmas Challenge.
From December 5 to 9, online donations to all 8,000 charities supported by the organisation will be matched by the Big Give’s partners and the charities’ major donors and supporters.
In a letter to supporters, chairman Susie Fisher writes: “Simply make your online donation to the Marlborough Arts Association, the charity which operates the Marlborough Jazz Festival, via the Big Give and your generous gift could doubly benefit the 2012 Marlborough Jazz Festival.”
Marlborough Arts Association has set itself a campaign target of £20,000.
More than £600 was raised by parents, children and supporters at Saturday's St Katharine's School Christmas Fair, which was held at Marlborough Town Hall.
Stick the nose on Rudolph, lucky dip, face painting and a competition to find hidden Christmas objects in a container of fake snow - courtesy of toy shop Ducklings - were among the attractions.
There were also plenty of activities: children were invited to decorate biscuits, paint ceramics and make holly decorations, while some stalls sold Christmas gifts made by the children in their classes.
The children themselves serenaded shoppers with Christmas songs and even Father Christmas took time out of his busy schedule to visit the event.