A RESCUED hen, a tortoise, a rabbit and a donkey were all blessed at an unusual church service.

The exotic beasts joined several cats and dogs with their owners at St John Vianney RC Church in Wantage on Sunday, October 9.

As in previous years at the annual animal blessing service, the star of the show was Tracy the donkey from Island Farm Donkey Sanctuary in Brightwell-cum-Sotwell near Wallingford.

Led by the Parish Priest Canon Peter Turbitt, pictured in white, prayers were offered for the suffering people and their animals in war-torn Syria and also for all those suffering loss and hardship as a consequence of the devastating Hurricane in Haiti.

Canon Peter said at the ceremony: "We are particularly fortunate in having Rev Hedley Feast as our guest speaker to remember the debt and responsibility we have for all the living creatures who share our world."

The service was also joined by the Mayor of Wantage Steve Trinder and his family.

A retiring collection was made for the Chilton group of the British Hen Welfare Trust which has rehomed 7,000 battery hens at the end of their commercial laying life.