SCHOOLCHILDREN enjoyed embarking on an interactive journey to explore the real meaning behind Christmas.

Around 180 pupils from five schools - Wylam First School, Prudhoe West Academy, Prudhoe Castle First School, Adderlane Academy and St Matthew’s Catholic Primary School - visited St Mary Magdalene Parish Church where they were immersed in the story of Christmas.

'The Christmas Journey' project ran for the first time in 2018, with this year being the 3rd time it has run after it was unable to go ahead last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Vicar Rev. Daniel Freyhan and his wife Samantha brought the idea with them from their previous posting in Stevenage.

The project sees schoolchildren transported back in time to meet the main characters of the first Christmas story.

The children visited different stations where they could meet the likes of the three wise men and a group of shepherds – all played by volunteers from local churches – and ask them questions.

The youngsters completed a craft activity at every station they visited to help them remember a key thing each character mentioned, for example children made a sheep when they met a shepherd.

At the end, the pupils met Mary, Joseph, and a real baby Jesus.

"When we first went to the schools, they were basically biting our hands off to come and take part," said Samantha.

"One thing the schools really appreciate is the multi-sensory nature of it.

"It's one thing to be able to read the Christmas story, but it's another thing completely to be able to climb inside it."

The project is a joint effort between volunteers from all of the churches in Prudhoe. This year, more than 53 volunteers were involved.

"It's a fabulous thing to do because we're able to come together from all these different churches and tell this story which is so precious for us," said Samantha.

The project will run again next year.

"It's been really successful," said Samantha.

"I've been quite overwhelmed at how good the volunteers have been. It's a real pleasure to bring people together around the Christmas story."

Resources for the project in Stevenage are provided by the Bridge Builders Christian Trust, who have also allowed St Mary Magdalene Parish Church use them in Prudhoe.