Updated: Tuesday, 19th February 2019 @ 6:14am

You're a long way from Bethlehem! Three wise men ride camels through Old Trafford to pay visit to new bishop

You're a long way from Bethlehem! Three wise men ride camels through Old Trafford to pay visit to new bishop

By Danielle Wainwright and James Metcalf

If you happened to drive through Manchester on Tuesday, you may have noticed three very unusual modes of transport cruising along the roads of Old Trafford.

And there were plenty of people to wish them well on their journey as children and parents of Seymour Park primary school looked on in amazement on the curious figures dressed head to toe in authentic Arab garb.

Like a scene out of the nativity, the three wise men paid a visit to the city on camels as they followed the star to make their way to meet the new Bishop of Manchester.

The event was organised by St John’s Centre, a voluntary centre which offers learning opportunities to Old Trafford residents, in the hope that it would ‘bring people together'.

Elaine Eland, a development worker at St John’s Centre, told MM: “I believe that common experiences bring people together.  As a development worker for St John’s in the Old Trafford community I try to create events that bring people together, where we can find out a bit more about each other and start to understand where people are coming from and going to.”

‘Camels are Coming ... travelling with hope’ began at 2pm and, after a quick rest, travelled to St Brides, Shrewsbury Street, where the camels from Joseph’s Amazing Camels ended their journey.

Ms Eland said: “The new development would mean St Bride’s Church being knocked down and rebuilt, so it seemed the right place to end our journey, where hopes for the future are many (just like the Wise Men’s story).”

Although Ms Eland said the idea for the event started out as a bit of a throw away comment last Christmas, it has garnered a lot of support from the community.

Seymour Park primary school and Trafford College came together to put on workshops for parents and children who made stars to mark the route and mince pies for visitors, and crowd barriers were donated by the Warehouse Project and collected by The Rainbow Furniture Project.

St Bride’s put on a nativity play and light show in support of the event, local PCSOs dealt with traffic, and electricians from Blackburn and Murgatroyd put a star on top of St John’s tower to act as the Northern Star followed by the three wise men.

The event was even filmed for free by Kerry Voellner, Iceland provided discounted mince pies, and Bottle Tops donated some funds for the star.

Ms Eland told MM: “There have been so many unforgettable moments for me throughout this whole process and I am constantly amazed at how helpful people have been and how much time and effort they have given to making the ‘Camels are coming ...’ such a success."  

Finding funding for the event did prove difficult at first, but Trafford Housing Trust saw its potential and how well such an event would fit in with their story of developing a new community centre, library, church and supported accommodation for the elderly in the heart of Old Trafford and came on board. 

Ms Eland said: “It is something that I hope people will talk about for many years – where were you when the camels came?  Did you see them?     

“My only regret – I didn’t actually get to ride a camel, too busy rushing round making sure everything went well.

“I’ve already been asked and how are you going to top that for next year?  Everyone will just have to wait and see!”

Pictures courtesy of Sukhrujan Singh, with thanks.

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