A COMEDIAN and regular visitor to Selby has returned to the town for a special Easter ceremony.

Where traditionally the Queen offers alms to deserving members of the public, historically the Pittancer attended Selby Abbey to distribute eggs and cheese to the Benedictine monks, inspect the drains, and give them £1 for postal costs.

The role had not been filled since 1517 until comedian Tim FitzHigham took it on in 2005 to commemorate Maundy Thursday, and while he has had to have deputies stand in for him in recent years due to touring obligations, he returned to his home town yesterday to carry on the tradition.

Tim said: " I arrived in Selby to do a show at the town hall in 2005 and said it was amazing that Selby had this role and it turned out no-one was doing it and they said 'why don't you have a go?', and it went from there.

"It's been great to be back in Selby, it's such a beautiful place to give out £1 to a priest. The Abbey is still stunning and the organ appeal is going on to give it some loving care, so I think the pound is going to that."

Tim's radio show The Gambler, in which he recreates bizarre bets from the 18th and 19th centuries, is on Radio 4 on Sunday at 7.15pm.

Although he missed his duties in 2012 and 2013 due to gigs in Australia, he was present yesterday, just days before flying out to New Zealand for his first tour of the country, and said it was nice to be back in Selby.

He said: "I have to say it's really nice getting to come back here every Maundy Thursday, and the Abbey is fantastic.

"There was a lovely service, followed by a nice cup of coffee then I checked the drains and looked for stray Benedictine monks but once again, there weren't any this year."