There are miniature woolly sheep everywhere as parishes across Cornwall set up their Christmas Sheep Trails. The idea is to bring the story of the shepherds to life, to generate some fun for children and some welcome extra throughput for local shops.

Children are being encouraged to visit the participating shops and churches in their locality to search for tiny knitted sheep and to find out their names. They enter these names on a form and (in some cases also complete the missing names in the Christmas story) and leave them at a collection point.

The winners of the competition will then be announced at the appropriate local Christmas Crib, Christingle and other Christmas Eve events.

“We have about 40 sheep hiding around the Benefice of Ludgvan, Marazion, St Hilary, Perranuthnoe, Goldsithney and Crowlas,” says Revd Dom Jones. “We have a few Shaun’s hiding, a Fred, a Molly, a Woolly and some more unusual names – and lots of shops have given their sheep names relating to their business.”

There are sheep post boxes in the schools and Marazion Church and a local shop (Trevenner Stores). Quiz sheets are in the three local schools and also under the Messy Church Christmas Tree at Marazion Christmas Tree Festival. The prize draw is happening at the Christmas Messy Church at 4pm on 23 December in the Marazion Community Centre.

“We have 20 sheep around the shops in Bodmin and all the shops asked were happy to accommodate them,” says Bernice Gresswell. “And we shall present our prize at the Christingle Service in St Petroc’s Church at 4pm on Christmas Eve.”

Look out for Lawrence, Hamish, Saffy, Bonio, Shaggy, Connie, Buster, Brian, Flora, Wooly, Logan, Flossie, Shawn,, J R Ewing, Marshmallow, Lamby, Larry, Buttons, Freddie and Mary as you do your Christmas shopping in Bodmin.

“There are sheep all over the place in the Penlee Cluster too,” says Revd Andrew Yates. “They’re in Penzance, Newlyn and Mousehole and full details can be found in our Penlee Sheep Trail leaflet.”

Par (Par Sheep Trail leaflet) has 11 shops and businesses involved. “When it was explained what we were doing they were more than happy to oblige; although one did think it was going to be a real sheep!” says Julia Bartlett.

“We decided to use The Good Shepherd Church for our 12th sheep as this enabled us to put a piece on the end of the story that if children visited this church they would find something related to the story they had just read and coloured in. So we put our ‘Knitivity’ up at the back of church with some knitted sheep snuggling along with the crib animals.

“The local Post Office has agreed to hold our prize draw box which will be collected on 24 December and our draw will take place at our Crib Service on the same day at 5pm in St Mary’s Church. And because of the age ranges, we have decided to split the entries into three age groups and so we have three prizes!” adds Julia.

Oh, and if you looking out for the Paa-ar sheep, their names are: Selwyn, Mint Sauce, Lamb Chop, Snowflake, Harry, Rambo, Larry, Buffin, Bill, Araan, Daisy and … Shaun!

Mevagissey launched its sheep trail at its recent ‘Open the Book’ assembly with over 100 very excited children taking a leaflet home. “At the same service, 15 reception children received a Bible,” says Revd Marion Barrett, “And one little girl immediately showed her friend where the sheep were!”

 “Our sheep are in nine shops with extra leaflets and entry boxes at the school and the Post Office. There will be a prize of a large toy sheep – the children would have liked a real one – presented at our Crib & Christingle service on Christmas Eve.