It is not often you encounter a free gift on your way to work but Orpington has been full of merry surprises this week if you've looked closely enough.

This was because 3,000 hand-knitted angels each containing Christmas messages were left across Orpington on Monday, December 18.

Known as the Christmas Angels project, it started in the north east three years ago.

Members of Churches Together in Orpington took part for its second year and dispatched 3,000 angels to railway stations, hospitals, schools, care homes, food banks and many other places.

Ruth Barriskill, originally from the north east, was inspired to spread this Christmas spirit to Orpington after collecting one of the angels three years ago.

She told News Shopper: "I was given an angel when I was visiting family and I thought it was a wonderful idea to bring to Orpington.

"To see the joy on peoples faces when they discover them sitting on a bench or hanging on a post is great- you see their surprise when they see the 'please take me I am free' message.

"It brings great joy especially on a dark cold morning on the way to work."

Ten churches in Orpington took part to knit the 3,000 angels.

Some of the messages include, 'A gift of God's love,' 'Christ the Savour is born' and 'Peace and joy.'

Ruth said it was "hugely rewarding" for everyone involved.

"As we knit we think of the participant who will pick it up and bring it home. There are members of the churches who are home bound and they find it full-filling to sit in their house and knit because it is their way of contributing.

"This brings happiness to so many. Some people see Christmas as one less seat at the table and it can be a sad time of loss.

"These angels can bring a message of hope and love."