VICAR of Dibley writer Paul Mayhew-Archer has raised £2,500 for charity with a run of sell-out comedy shows at Abingdon’s Unicorn Theatre.

The money, raised through raffles and auctions at the performances, has been split between Maggie’s Oxford cancer support centre and the local branch of Parkinson’s UK, a cause close to the heart of the scriptwriter who has Parkinson’s himself.

Audiences who joined him for the five sell-out nights of comedy at The Unicorn were treated to a hometown debut of his first solo show ‘Incurable Optimist’, which he will be taking to this year’s Edinburgh Fringe.

Originally planned as just one performance, the event sold out so quickly that organisers at The Regal cinema group, which is currently putting on film screenings at the theatre, added four more dates.

Mr Mayhew-Archer said: “I’m overwhelmed by the response to our fundraising and would like to say a huge 'thank you' to everyone who came along and dug deep for charities that do such important work in Oxfordshire.

“My thanks also to Ian and The Regal team for giving me the opportunity to launch my Edinburgh Fringe show in my hometown. Finally, to anyone coming to see me in Edinburgh, don’t worry. My optimistic attitude may be infectious but I’m not.”

The Unicorn has been bringing a range of box-office hits to Abingdon, which has not had a cinema in the town centre for 30 years.

Ian Wiper of The Regal said: “We were thrilled to be able to kick off our live events in Abingdon by welcoming Paul to The Unicorn.

"The shows received phenomenal interest and sold out in record time, which is a testament to Paul’s talent as a stand-up comedian. We’d like to extend our thanks to everyone who joined us for these very entertaining evenings and helped us raise such a brilliant amount for two truly deserving causes.”

Funds were raised by raffles and auctions, with prizes available including a Vicar of Dibley script book signed by Mr Mayhew-Archer and a DVD copy of Roald Dahl’s Esio Trot, signed by both Mr Mayhew-Archer and Richard Curtis, who co-adapted the children’s classic for television.

Sally Bromley, chair of Parkinson’s UK Oxford branch, said: “We’re so thrilled to have a spokesperson like Paul to help us raise awareness of Parkinson’s; his optimistic outlook is infectious.”

Pip Dingle, fundraising manager at Maggie’s Oxford, added: “Paul and Richard Curtis opened our Maggie’s Centre which is in the grounds of the Churchill Hospital, back in 2014 and we’re delighted that Paul continues to support us. The funds will be put to good use in providing free practical, emotional and social support for those with cancer.”