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Voting around the Christmas tree – Reindeer and donkeys warm hearts at Ipswich polling station

PUBLISHED: 19:00 12 December 2019

Santa and his little helper were on hand at the polling station at Whitton Community Primary School  Picture: VICTORIA PERTUSA

Santa and his little helper were on hand at the polling station at Whitton Community Primary School Picture: VICTORIA PERTUSA

VICTORIA PERTUSA

Voters in Ipswich were given a festive treat this polling day thanks to a herd of reindeer and donkeys.

VP_05 Mrs Colman and William the Reindeer  Picture: VICTORIA PERTUSAVP_05 Mrs Colman and William the Reindeer Picture: VICTORIA PERTUSA

In a bizarre turn of events, Whitton Community Primary School had double-booked their annual Christmas fete on the day of this year's general election - where they are open as a polling station.

But in a bid to warm hearts amid wet and windy conditions and fractious moods in the political chamber, the school decided to keep the spirits high and keep the fete running.

As well as the real life reindeer and donkeys, the fete also hosted a Santa's grotto, games, tombola and a raffle - on top of an array of festive food and drink.

Elsewhere, other unusual polling stations across the county included the 200-year-old windmill in Thelnetham.

Cliff Collins and William the Reinder from Cobwebs Donkeys and Reindeer at the school's festive fair  Picture: VICTORIA PERTUSACliff Collins and William the Reinder from Cobwebs Donkeys and Reindeer at the school's festive fair Picture: VICTORIA PERTUSA

In previous years, the local village hall served as the polling station, but is undergoing major refurbishments.

Chris Mills, volunteer and event organiser at the mill, said: "When I was approached I was quite pleased because people know of it but haven't actually been inside it, so I thought it was a great way to get people to come to the mill.

The 75-year-old added he was fearful of tactical voting ahead of the election and the effect it could have on the outcome.

A flat in Sandyhill Lane, Ipswich, also opened its doors to voters.

Polling Station at Thelnetham Windmill. Picture: VICTORIA PERTUSAPolling Station at Thelnetham Windmill. Picture: VICTORIA PERTUSA

The number 51 flat, which is owned by Ipswich Borough Council, is currently empty - and the authority has said voters did not need worry about disturbing any occupants.

In previous years, a kitchen has also been used - while this year, the Kingfisher, Station Hotel and Belstead Arms pubs in the town also served as places for people to carry out their democratic right.

Other schools in the country which didn't serve as official polling stations instead held their own mini-elections, with both Holbrook Academy and Northgate High School giving pupils the chance to have their voices heard.

Holbrook Academy headteacher Nicky Mayhew said: "Although our students are not yet old enough to vote, we want them to understand the process and be engaged with the politics of our time. Ultimately, today's vote shapes their futures."


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