Selby is planning to say "thanks-a-million" to the people who saved the town from severe flooding with a special thanksgiving service and an old-fashioned knees-up.

The service and party will take place on Saturday, January 6, at Selby Abbey Leisure Centre, which was used to house flood evacuees during the recent crisis.

It will be attended by about 400 representatives from the Army, emergency services, Environment Agency, district council, Selby Contract Services, RJB Mining and voluntary services.

The event has been organised by Selby Town Council in conjunction with the vicar of Selby Abbey, the Reverend Keith Jukes - and will include a massive fireworks display.

It follows dozens of phone calls, faxes, e-mails and letters from residents and relatives of flood victims, calling for some kind of official ceremony to recognise the "superhuman efforts" involved in laying 250,000 sandbags.

The thanksgiving service, which will be conducted by Mr Jukes, will be followed by a buffet and drinks, and dancing to several bands.

Town councillor Steve Shaw-Wright said: "We wanted to find a way of getting together to thank all the people involved.

"Royal Artillery troops, for example, turned up, did their work without any fuss, and then left without us having an opportunity to show our gratitude.

"A lot of sweat, blood and tears were shed during the crisis, which generated a tremendous community spirit.

"We owe a debt of gratitude to a lot of selfless people, including volunteers, who worked round-the-clock to fill and lay sandbags.

"Without them, many other parts of Selby would have been under water."

Mr Jukes said: "The service will enable us not only to say thank-you to everyone who helped, but also to celebrate the end of a very difficult time, especially for those whose homes were flooded.

"People are now counting the cost of damaged homes and furniture, but good things happened as well, such as pulling together. When you have your backs to the wall, it brings out the best in people.

"It will be a day when people will be able to let their hair down - Selby deserves no less."