The biblical nativity was brought to life for residents at a veterans' home in Surbiton recently.

With the festive period well underway, staff at the Royal Star and Garter (RSG) home in Surbiton arranged for a reconstruction of the famous bible story of the birth of lowly birth Jesus in a Bethlehem stable surrounded by animals on Thursday (December 12).

Donkeys, goats and pigs were just some of the stars of the show, with residents spending time holding and stroking the animals.

The Home’s Activities Manager, Raquel Pena Aristizabal, arranged for the visit with Millers Ark Animals, with handler Chris Fowler dressed as shepherd.

RSG pointed out that research has shown stroking animals can help reduce stress, lower blood pressure and increase social interaction and physical activity.

It has also been shown to help battle depression and loneliness.

Ms Pena Aristizabal said of the visit:

"We have so many activities taking place in the run-up to Christmas, but this is one of the highlights.

"The residents always love it when animals come and visit the Home, and they loved the nativity scene. It was beautiful.”

One resident said: “The animals are lovely. I enjoyed stroking them. It was a fun and unusual thing to do.”

Handler Mr Fowler added: “I love coming here, it’s good for the residents to spend time with the animals. It’s good therapy for them, and it’s also good for staff and relatives too!”