AT the first Noel, a great company of heavenly hosts descended from on high to announce the good news that a Saviour would be born in Bethlehem.

And this year, dozens of hand-crafted angels will be dropping through the doors of houses in Radcliffe to share about that Christmas cheer.

Knitters have been busy crafting more than 250 angels to distribute around the town.

These woollen decorations are a gift from members of Bridge Community Church in Milltown Street, formerly called Bridge Methodist Church.

They will be given away with invitations to an inter-church carol service on Saturday as well as a booklet with information about the Christmas story.

Knitting volunteer Barbara Chaloner, aged 67, said: "A small group of us have been making about two or three angels a day since September. It has been such good fun.

"We hope these angels will encourage people to think about the Christmas story and not just the commercial side of the season. We are celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ and the good news that he brings.

"Anyone who comes to the service will be sure of a very warm welcome."

She added: "We thought we'd start a bit earlier next year. I've just purchased the wool."

Mrs Chaloner adopted the idea from the deacon at Tottington Methodist Church, Michelle Brocklehurst, in the hope that the knitted angels would be a gift to the community, rather than just the usual flyer.

She enlisted the help of Carol Bromelow, aged 75, and a few others, and set about the task of mass producing the host of 250 angels. Each unique design has taken about one hour and 30 minutes to produce.

Three of the angels incorporate a bee design in memory of those killed in the Manchester Arena attack.

Around 150 angels will be given away at the open air carol service at the bandstand on Radcliffe Piazza on Saturday, December 15, at 2pm.