Thousands of knitted hearts popped up around Chadwell Heath in a bid to bring festive cheer.

Eighteen people went out and about across the area on Tuesday evening (December 14) and distributed the 3,186 hearts.

They were created by around 30 members of St Chad's Church, in Eric Road, with help from as far afield as Exeter.

Julie Court, wife of St Chad's vicar Martin Court, organised the initiative and hailed the response of the community.

She said: "We have had a huge reaction on Facebook from this event and we have had so many messages of thanks and pictures of the hearts on people’s trees.

"It is so important to join the community together and to bring cheer in a world where joy and peace are declining.

"This is our way to do this – to show that we care for the community around us."

A message was attached to each of the hearts which read: "I'm a heart and I am free, please take me home to adorn your tree."

Grove Primary School, in Chadwell Heath Lane, was one of the places where hearts were left outside.

On its Facebook page, the school posted: "To find all of these gorgeous hearts and messages along our fences, trees and lampposts early in the morning has brought a smile to everyone’s face."

Four years ago, Julie revealed she was inspired by a website called Christmas Angel to knit some angels to bless the community.

She asked the church for help and 700 angels ended up being made.

"The reaction from the community was amazing," Julie said. "The congregation also enjoyed it so asked what we were knitting the following year."

In the second year, more than 1,200 stars were made while last year the church's scheme came up with 2,650 stockings.

Among Julie's role in organising the yearly event is sorting patterns, organising people to go out and pinpointing locations to distribute the creations.

"It has just got bigger and bigger.

"Now I am racking my brain as to what we will do next year."