A SPECIAL church service was held yesterday for animals from around east Cleveland.

St Hilda's Church, Redcar held its third annual pets blessing service, which was led by the Reverend Chris Greenwell, with curates Linda Shipp and Marian Gardner, to mark the feast of St Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals.

The service attracted a handful of animal owners and pets, including a python, rabbits, hamsters and a stick insect.

Mr Greenwell said: "People really enjoyed it and it was really encouraging to see the variety of pets brought to the service, which also includes hymns with an animal theme and a blessing of each animal."

His own cocker spaniel, 13-month-old Sweep, was among the congregation.

A collection of pet food was held during the service, in aid of Saltburn Animal Rescue Association (Sara).

Sheila Green, of Sara, said: "We are always grateful for any donations we receive and it is nice to have a service like this.

"There is always a wide variety of pets and it is just a little bit different."