A CONGREGATION was treated to the unusual sight of a donkey leading the opening procession at a service on Saturday.

The donkey, from the Elizabeth Svendsen Trust centre in Leeds, was part of the annual Service for Animal Welfare, held this year at York Minster. It was brought in to represent the plight of millions of working animals throughout the world.

The service was organised jointly by the Anglican Society for the Welfare of Animals and Catholic Concern for Animals.

It is held annually in churches across Britain to draw attention to the importance of compassionate care for animals.

The Bishop of Liverpool, the Right Reverend James Jones, a patron of the Anglican Society, spoke at the service.

Maureen Balcombe, a member of the Anglican Society and a voluntary guide at York Minster, said: "Animals make our world a richer place, and they have featured throughout the history of mankind. However, they have also been subject to abuse in many forms - often severely. It is important that as Christians and human beings we recognise this and try to find a better way forward."

The Anglican Society is a UK-based Christian organisation which aims to raise awareness of animal welfare issues within the Anglican Church and the wider Christian community.