Two alpacas make the lower for a churchyard in Leeds

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Given the prospect of preserving a churchyard spanning nearly four acres, a community has turned to animal power to keep vegetation in check.

A pair of alpacas, a breed originally native to the slopes of the Andes, have joined the maintenance team at St Wilfrid & # 39; s, the 12th century parish church of the village of Calverley on the outskirts of Leeds.

There are around 3,500 graves in the churchyard: most of them are in an enclosed Victorian cemetery and in a small area that still houses burials today. There is also a wild meadow. "It takes a lot of maintenance," said Church Licensed Lay Minister in charge of the alpacas, John Corbin. "We can't mow it because the graves are too close together. If you look at pictures from 20 years ago, you can't see the graves for the vegetation."

John CorbinPablo with Jeffrey behind

A farmer let his sheep in to graze on them for a while in the summer, but they no longer come. The community bought some goats and has now received the alpacas Pablo and Jeffrey from a villager. "You're doing an excellent job," said Corbin. “The goats are cooped up, but the alpacas roam everywhere. Adorable, docile, and soft, they have become major attractions, especially during the lockdown when many families visit to admire them.

“The village school next door looks out onto the churchyard, and the children can see the alpacas. You will remember this experience for the rest of your life. A boy raised £ 700 to buy them a shelter. "

When the church asked for help with the care of the alpacas, it was overwhelmed with offers and now has a Rota for volunteers. "It's a really good contact with the community," said Corbin. "People who get involved aren't all churchgoers, and that's a bonus for us."

The deputy curator covering the position at St. Wilfrid, Rev. Dr. Sue McWhinney said: “We are all very excited about the good news. it brought young people out of the village. They don't come to church, but they just love to see the animals. It connects us with all sorts of people and was a great place to come to throughout the curfew. We are now planning to buy around half a dozen sheep to keep the work going. "

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