A DONKEY filmed for the final Harry Potter movie will make his Swindon debut as Old Town is transformed into the streets of Bethlehem and Nazareth for a massive retelling of the Nativity story.

Jimmy, a 16-year-old donkey from Guildford, will be one of the highlights of The Journey on Sunday.

Owner Alex Fisher of Dashing Donkeys said the steed was already well used to the limelight, with numerous Nativity plays, a ballet performance and a scene from Harry Potter under his belt.

“He’s got a lot of character,” she added. “He’s very cheeky and he tells the rest of the crew when somebody’s there to feed him. We’ll make sure he’s nicely groomed and that he’s had something to eat.”

Rev Daphne Hardwick, associate minister at Christ Church and a former midwife, said Sunday’s retelling of the Nativity story was something she had always dreamed of putting on for Old Town.

It will feature professional actors, as well as amateurs and local schoolchildren taking the parts of extras. Two-week-old baby Jasper Dilworth, from Old Town, will play the baby Jesus. The artistic director, Anna Friend, has previously found success producing the Wroughton Passion Play watched by 2,000 people in 2016.

Rev Hardwick said: “It always appeared to me that we often sanitised the Christmas story and create a rather Disneyesque version with sweet-smelling hay and fluffy lambs, forgetting that this was really a very gritty story of perseverance and faith at a time of great upheaval and conflict.

“There are so many similarities with today as people find themselves living under oppressive regimes and being forced to move from their homes.

“In producing The Journey, I am hoping that people will be encouraged to think why and what we are celebrating and perhaps discover that there is light and hope in what at times may seem a dark world.”

The performance will start at Lethbridge Primary School, taking the part of Nazareth, with actors and audience walking to Christ Church via Bath Road and Wood Street. Rolling road closures will be in place during the two hour performances, which start at 12pm and 4pm.

Tickets for the performances are free, but organisers ask that people register online at www.oldtownjourney.co.uk or by calling Christ Church on 01793 522832.

The Journey is on Sunday, December 9. For more, visit: www.oldtownjourney.co.uk.