FORMER soap star Helen Flanagan swapped the Coronation Street cobbles for those of Covent Garden for a protest against animal cruelty.

The TV actress, who attended Westholme School in Blackburn, wore a red Santa costume without the traditional white trim to emphasise to shoppers in the high-end shopping district that they should enjoy a fur-free Christmas.


Helen, who is best known for playing Rosie Webster in Coronation Street for 12 years before quitting last year, teamed up with campaign group Peta in holding up a sign which read ‘Keep it fur-free under the Xmas tree’.

Helen, who was the highest ranking British star in FHM's sexiest women poll this year, was encouraging people to avoid presents which involved animal cruelty as she dressed in the red dress, white stockings and red platform stilettos.

She said: "Fur is cruel and gruesome, and it belongs squarely in Christmas' past.

“With all the wonderful stylish, fur-free designs available today, it has never been easier to celebrate with Christmas gifts that are as kind as they are chic."

Peta said coats, collars and cuffs made from fur involved ‘immense animal suffering’ and claimed that some animals were skinned while still alive.

It pointed out many designers - including Calvin Klein, Stella McCartney, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger and Vivienne Westwood - shunned fur.

Earlier this month, Helen returned to the Australian jungle to appear in the ITV2 show I’m A Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here! Now!

She came seventh in last year’s series.