FLOOD victims are set to enjoy all the fun of the circus next week when a big top opens its doors for a special show.

The Paulos Circus has agreed to hold a free performance in York to try to cheer up hundreds of people whose properties were inundated just after Christmas.

Up to 400 free seats are available for the show, which takes place at 6pm on Wednesday April 13 at Roko Health Club on Clifton Moor, a day before the circus opens to the paying public for four days,

Circus spokesman Kenny Darnell said: "We just wanted to give a little happiness to people who have been suffered during the flooding."

The circus stepped in to help out at the request of York resident Lainie Thornhill, of Holgate, who worked as a volunteer helping people in the days after the River Ouse and the Foss burst their banks, when she saw how the flood impacted on their lives.

"I wanted to do something to bring them a little joy and sunshine, and so I got in contact with various organisations to see if they could spare some free tickets for flood affected families," she said. "The circus got back to me to offer a free show for the families."

She said City of York Council had arranged for free chocolates donated by Nestlé to be given out and Stephenson's coaches had kindly agreed to help out with transport up to the event for anyone needing it, leaving the Memorial Gardens at 5pm to 5.15pm.

"I've also arranged for there to be a free raffle for the flood-affected families during their time at the circus and there are a lot of amazing prizes, although I would appreciate it if anyone else is willing to donate any more prizes."

She said any flood victims wanting to go should email her on lainie1981@hotmail.co.uk or visit the 'York Floods 2015 Help for the Affected' page on Facebook, while any without internet access should ask a friend, relative or neighbour to email her, or they could call Mike Laycock at The Press on 01904 567132.

"I will be providing a list of names for the coach company to ensure the correct people get on the coach, so people should let me know if they need transport," she said. "Only people named on our list for the show will be able to enter; those who are not on the list will not be able to join us."