OTLEY'S new mayor has set himself a 'massive' 15 charity fundraising challenge.

Councillor Nigel Francis (Ind, Danefield) was appointed to the ceremonial role for the fourth time at the Town Council's AGM on Monday.

He will be supported in his duties by his consorts Callum and Diane Francis, his son and wife, while the Deputy Mayor will be Councillor Mary Vickers (Lib Dem, Prince Henry's).

In 2012 Cllr Francis managed to hit a £20,000 mayoral fundraising target which raised £1,000 apiece for 20 good causes - though he admitted the effort 'nearly killed' him.

Announcing his aims for 2017-18, he said: "My charities are something special.

"We've got another crack at raising a massive amount of money - it's a bit of a death or glory year.

"This is definitely the last year I'm going to be mayor and I'm going out with a bang!"

He then outlined the work done by each of the groups that will benefit, including two community projects in Bulgaria, a water holes initiative in Zimbabwe and a library in Gambia.

The UK-based causes include:

*Otley Parish Church Bells and Otley Navvies Memorial

*Martin House Children's Hospice, St Gemma's Hospice, Sue Ryder Wheatfields Hospice and Bluebell Wood Children's Hospice

*The Hug on a Tray hospital scheme, run by Chevin Socialites

*Natureland Seal Sanctuary at Skegness.

Cllr Francis is the chairman and founder of children's charity Hang on to a Dream, which will also be a beneficiary.

And he made special mention of the final project on his list - to create an Avro memorial for 'the people, planes and pilots connected to Avro Works', at Yeadon, during World War Two.

A number of events will be held, including a Bulgarian night, 1960s weekend, autumn fair, late-night Christmas market and concerts, to support the appeal.

Town Council Chairman Councillor Ray Georgeson (Lib Dem, Danefield), nominating Cllr Francis for the mayoralty, praised his 'tireless work for good causes'.

He added: "He's an inveterate fundraiser who has served on the town council since 1995 - that's 22 years continuous service.

"I know he will serve the town well and be a grand ambassador."

Earlier, Cllr Francis had paid tribute to the outgoing mayor, Councillor Ian Jackson (Lib Dem, Ashfield).

He said: "Ian has been a great credit to our town, his smart appearance, friendly smile and drive to do the job with a true professionalism makes him a hard act to follow."

Cllr Jackson announced that his mayoral year had raised £1,357 for the NSPCC and the Alzheimer's Society.

Reflecting on his experiences and thanking everyone who had helped him, he said: "It's been fabulous, it's a wonderful thing to represent the town like this and I've thoroughly enjoyed it."