A church minister told the traditional Christmas story to youngsters at a Huddersfield school – but with an unusual twist.

Baptist minister the Rev Mike Smith visited Paddock Junior School to tell how baby Jesus was born in a stable in Bethlehem.

But Mr Smith was dressed as a Roman soldier and told the story from a squaddie’s point of view in troubled times.

Mr Smith, 74, who spent 25 years as minister at Golcar Baptist Church until his retirement in 2005, is an expert on Roman history.

He donned the uniform of a soldier and delighted youngsters with his alternative Christmas story.

Rev Mike Smith dresses up as a Roman centurion to deliver his Christmas tale at Paddock J&I school.
Rev Mike Smith dresses up as a Roman centurion to deliver his Christmas tale at Paddock J&I school.
 

“Everything I tell in the story is authentic,” said Mr Smith, still a practising minister and member of Milnsbridge Baptist Church.

“I tell the story through the eyes of a squaddie stationed at Bethlehem to sort things out for the census.

“I am an expert on Roman history and there is a lot that people don’t know about the background to the Christmas story.

“People from Galilee, where Mary and Joseph came from, had a different accent and there had been trouble up north.

“People in Bethlehem would say they didn’t want Galileans here. There was a revolt in Galilee and people would not exactly be welcome. That might explain why there was no room for them.

“Also the shepherds were out in the fields when usually they would be in their huts. They were outside keeping watch over their sheep because they were their wealth.”

It’s not the first time Mr Smith has delivered his alternative Christmas story. “I did it a couple of times last year and it went down well,” he said.

Youngsters at Paddock lapped up the story having studied the Romans.

Deputy head Mrs Sallie Lumb said: “It’s something unusual but the children were hooked.”