ACTOR John Middleton – who played Emmerdale vicar Rev Ashley Thomas – is to narrate a special Christmas performance at Ripon Cathedral.

The award-winning actor will be at the cathedral on Saturday, December 2, when he will narrate a specially written and staged version of Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem and the birth of Jesus, entitled The Christmas Story.

John played the Rev Ashley Thomas in Emmerdale for 21 years and won a number of awards for his performance portraying the decline of dementia sufferer Ashley.

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The play will also feature dancers from the Academy of Northern Ballet, choirs from Ripon Cathedral and Ripon Grammar school, pupils from Queen Ethelburga’s and even a donkey.

The performance will raise funds for the Ripon Cathedral Music Trust. The trust has so far raised some £700,000 as part of a major appeal to ensure the music at the cathedral – which has a nationwide reputation - is secured in perpetuity.

Tickets can be purchased from Ripon Cathedral Bookshop or online from; riponcathedral.org.uk/event/storyofchristmas