RESCUED Shetland ponies will be among the farmyard friends helping to spread Christmas cheer in Belbroughton this weekend at the village's annual Carols on the Green event.

Pixie, Dixie and Elfie, who have all been given a new home at Belbroughton's Animal Sanctuary and Protection over the last few months, will be guests of honour at the festive bash taking place on Sunday December 18 at 4.30pm.

One of the new little ponies was taken in after being neglected by its previous owners, another was rescued after its owner expressed a plan to shoot the unwanted animal and the third four-legged friend was found abandoned as a foal at a horse sale.

Now enjoying a new lease of life at the sanctuary which is run by Belbroughton animal lover Anthea Frisby, the trio will also be joined at the candle-lit carol service by Dotty the donkey who was adopted by ASAP just a few months ago.

Youngsters from Belbroughton School will be performing at the Yuletide event - which will raise money to help fund all of the sanctuary's rescued animals through the winter months.

Volunteer Gaye Hadley said: "We're absolutely jam-packed at the moment, we can't take in any more animals - we've got around 40 horses. It's the present economic situation - people can't afford to look after them. And this year we've had to start feeding hay to the animals earlier than we have ever had to - there's been no grass due to the drought situation we had in the summer."

She said it costs around £25 for each bag of hay and around £10 for a 20kg bag of animal feed.

Anyone wishing to make a donation to the sanctuary can call Anthea Frisby on 01562 730261 or send cheques payable to ASAP Belbroughton to Church Farm, Bradford Lane, Belbroughton, DY9 9TF.