A HERD of reindeer have been saved from a winter left out in the cold after their appearances at Christmas events around the county were threatened by the Bluetongue disease restrictions.

Sparky Bloodworth's four Swedish reindeer were at risk of missing out on a full season of festive bookings when he found out the surveillance zone started a few miles from his doorstep.

It meant he would have to cancel all their appearances within the zone as the movement of susceptible animals across the border is strictly forbidden.

But in the true spirit of Christmas a neighbour has come to his rescue and offered his herd a temporary home.

Mr Bloodworth, 50, of Norton St Philip, said: "We were told by Defra that the surveillance zone runs right up to Monkton Farleigh Castle so we're just outside it.

"We had a booking on Saturday in Bradford on Avon and we didn't want to let our bookings down so we had to find somewhere for the reindeer to stay until after its over.

"It was a choice of either not doing the bookings or finding somewhere for them to stay."

After hearing about his predicament Wendy Self, of Larkrise Community Farm near Trowbridge, came to the rescue and offered him a temporary home for the reindeer in an empty stall on the farm.

Mr Bloodworth said: "We were rescued by Larkrise Community Farm.

"Where they are now is absolutely perfect - and they do such a lot of good work there."

Mr Bloodworth only bought the reindeer earlier this year with the intention of breeding from them.

The two female deer are being kept at Larkrise so Mr Bloodworth can honour his bookings inside the zone and the two males are on his own farm for the bookings outside the zone.

Mrs Self, 46, who has between 35-40 students working at Larkrise Community Farm every week, said: "I rung him and said we've got a spare box here and it would be ideal for us to have them because of the students and visitors we have.

"They are fine here, they are both in one box in the barn. It takes a bit for them to get used to because it's quite noisy but everyone loves them."

She added that the students were learning a lot about reindeer and they were proving popular with the visitors.

There is no information from Defra yet about whether Bluetongue restrictions will apply to reindeer in flying sledges.