A LOVEABLE model Christmas reindeer saved from a council skip is being used to tug the public’s heartstrings to support worthwhile local charities.

The novel fundraiser, dreamed up publican Michelle Riley, had already caught the imagination of her customers at her tiny pub, The Cob and Coal, on Oldham’s Tommyfield Market.

And Michelle, renowned for her zany sense of humour, has nicknamed the reindeer Ant — because he only has half an antler.

Michelle, former landlady of The White Lion in Delph, said: “While I was building the pub, the market let me use their compound to park as I was coming and going all day.

“One morning, I saw two hooves sticking out of the top of a skip. One of the market workers on site so I asked what it was. He said it was a broken Christmas decoration.

“I looked in and saw the reindeer. I got a bit upset and said that he couldn’t go to recycling.

“And when I came back out of the market that evening, Ant had been taken out of the skip and was waiting by my car.

“I brought him home - with difficulty - and he’s been here ever since.

“I decided to rebuild his one remaining antler and patch him up a bit. He’s now takes pride of place at the front of the pub to raise money for various charities.

“He’s already proving a hit with market customers, but I reckon John Lewis should take him on for their next year’s Christmas campaign — he beats a dragon any day!”

She went on: “Pennine pen animal rescue charity do loads of good work with abandoned animals and as Ant was a rescue himself it made sense to help raise money and get good donations.

“The rescue team has had a run of bad luck with their van getting broken into and a number of their charity boxes getting stolen.

“All my animals have been rescued and am currently mum to a seven-year-old errant rescue German Shepherd, Daisy.

“And we also have a collecting box for Dr Kershaws Hospice,” she added.

When Michelle opened the novel venue a few months ago, Sara Hewitt, The Town Centre and markets manager for the council, said: “We're thrilled Michelle has chosen Tommyfield Market as the location for her new venture.”

Leicester-born Michelle settled on the bar’s unique name after discussing traditional cob coaling with her husband Chris.

"It’s a a cob in Leicester and in the end we decided on an honourable compromise and the name of the tune fitted the bill because of song’s connection to the area.”

The song “We come a cob coalin’” was a firm favourite sung by children in the run up to Bonfire Night.