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Armagh schoolgirl Athena puts ‘pet turkey’ top of her Christmas wish list!

Dolls, prams and toys – every little girl’s Christmas wish list is different.

But there’s different and there’s different!

One six-year-old Armagh schoolgirl’s ideal Christmas gift was far from the norm.

Yet it was typical of Athena Bryson when she asked for a pet turkey – yes, a turkey!

And why?turkey

Because she wanted to save it from being slaughtered and ending up as someone’s traditional Christmas Day fayre!

Mum Melissa admits she was somewhat taken aback by the request but made it her mission to get Athena her pet turkey at all costs – enduring the laughs and the jokes as she started ringing around to make enquiries.

Athena – a vegetarian – is so taken by animals, living as she does on a farm.

And Melissa admits to being “very proud” of her daughter, whose Christmas wish has come true thanks to a farmer – known only as Kevin!

Melissa, speaking on BBC Radio Foyle, told how it all came about.

“I said ‘Athena, what would you like for Christmas’ and she said ‘I want a pet turkey! I want to save a turkey so that nobody eats it!’

“So I went on the internet and tried to source a turkey but whenever I was phoning the people up they all thought it was a joke and they were all laughing at me and saying ‘sure they’re all pre-packed now at Tesco’s’.

“But I eventually got this lovely wee old farmer. He was away down the country and I told him and he said ‘awk that’s a lovely story’. He said ‘I’m going to slaughter my turkeys today so that would be no good, but I’ll try and source a turkey somewhere and phone you back in an hour’.”

And true to his word he did.

He told Melissa he had sourced a turkey for her just outside Newry.

“I said that would be lovely,” continued Melissa. “So I went and got it yesterday and we called it Valerie Lucky – after my best friend Valerie.

“She’s lovely. I’ve never seen a turkey up close but she’s beautiful and she’s outside in a big cage and she’s going to be a wee pet for us all.

“She was in the kitchen last night and Athena was brushing her and feeding her bread and she went out this morning before she went to school and gave her hen nuts.”

Athena is also planning to bring the family pet into her school to allow her young classmates to meet Valerie Lucky!

Melissa says she is “very proud” of her daughter for wanting to save a turkey.

“It was a lovely thing at Christmas,” she added. “Her daddy’s a farmer and I love animals myself so we are surrounded by animals down here in the country and that’s what she loves.

“She doesn’t like dolls or toys or anything really. She just loves animals – guinea pigs and rabbits and chicks and goats and horses.”

Valerie Lucky had been due to be slaughtered the very day the family collected her.

But this is one turkey which will not be breaking a sweat this Yuletide!

“She’s safe now for Christmas,” adds a delighted Melissa. “The man who got her says she will start to lay eggs in the springtime and our children love eggs so we’re going to eat eggs for our breakfast and our tea!”

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