Five lucky turkeys will be celebrating their best ever Christmas after avoiding their fate as someone's festive dinner.

The famous five faced a bleak future until Christmas shoppers, touched by their plight, plucked them from poultry farms, where they were waiting on death row, and gave them a new lease of life.

The birds are now under the watchful eye of animal lover and vegetarian, Pauline Grant, who runs the Sussex Horse Rescue Trust in Hempstead Lane, Uckfield.

Mother-of-four Pauline, 68, said: "They will not be eaten. I'm having nut roast for Christmas dinner and they won't end up on someone's plate."

The turkeys were given to the trust by separate people who all told Pauline they could not bear for the creatures to end up roasted and served with cranberry.

Pauline, who oversees a menagerie of animals on the 165-acre plot, including goats, horses and llamas, said: "We get peculiar calls all the time. This lady telephoned me and asked if she gave me a live turkey, would I look after it.

"'Of course,' I said. She then arrived with this turkey in the back of her car.

"One lady came with two of them and said she couldn't bear to eat them.

"I don't know what her husband is going to have for Christmas dinner instead. Spam, perhaps."

Pauline adopted a turkey last year, which had also escaped the oven.

Now all six are living in harmony, safe in the knowledge their future is secure.

The new arrivals are believed to have come from factory farms as their beaks have been clipped to stop them attacking other birds. This is done when they are forced to live in close proximity.

The turkeys are also massive for their age, which is a sign they were being fed to grow quickly, which can cause them leg and hip problems.

The former feathered inmates also seemed unsure of what to do with their new-found freedom. It is likely they had never seen the light of day in their bleak hen house.

Pauline said: "It's so lovely to see them. When they first came here they would just stay at the back of the shed and wouldn't come out.

"They had all had their beaks clipped so they didn't know how to forage but they watched the chickens here and they soon picked it up from what they were doing."

The birds also did not realise that when the weather was bad they could mooch back into their shed.

She said: "They don't seem to have any street cred. They aren't used to doing what they want."

Pauline's lone turkey was pleased to see his new feathered friends arrive.

She said: "He hung out with the chickens before but now he has been with the turkeys.

"They are so lovely to watch and so interesting. I would never eat them."