A WITCH doctor visited the city to protect the river and the people of Worcester from disease.

The ceremony - which involved traditional healing chants and a blessing of the river - took place on Bromwich Parade with an aim to cleanse the river of bacteria.

It was brought to the attention of the witch doctor that a small amount of 'vibrio cholerae' - the bacteria that can cause cholera - could be present in the Worcestershire area of the River Severn.

It is believed to have been carried by wild salmon who had feasted on infected plankton as they migrated upstream.

A Native American water blessing 'Wichita do ya do ya do ya' and a healing mantra called 'Ra Ma Da Sa Sa Say So Hung' were sung.

Tea made from the bark of the golden shower tree which is said to be a 'disease killer' was passed around.

Malcolm Smyth, aged 20, a student at the University of Worcester, narrated the ceremony.

"I'm fairly familiar with this kind of thing, I know a bit of Indonesian which was helpful but it was really fun to be involved," he said.

"I thought the chance of working with a witch doctor was an opportunity I couldn't pass on.

"It's always interesting to see things from other parts of the world."

Mr Smyth found out about the ceremony from a newspaper advert and was then contacted by a medium who forwarded on the readings.

He made no direct contact with the witch doctor before or during the ceremony.

Kelly Ashton, who was walking along New Road, said: "I could smell all the incense and I just popped my head down to see what was going on.

"It was definitely different for Worcester, I've never seen anything like that around here before.

"It seemed really interesting although I couldn't really tell you what was going on exactly.

"I think I'd like to learn a bit more about it."

She joined around 15 people who watched the ceremony last Thursday (October 26).

Ellie Hughes, who saw an advert posted on Facebook, said: "It was a bit of a culture shock, I've only ever heard about these things and never seen them in person.

"I was definitely interested though and thought I would check it out.

"It was all a bit surreal."