OTLEY'S Town Mayor has been asked by a Bulgarian dignitary to take on a new charity project.

Councillor Nigel Francis (Ind, Danefield) is raising money for a variety of good causes, ranging from water holes in Zambia to the Otley Navvies Memorial, through his 14+1 appeal.

Two of the projects being supported - a children's home in Belovo and a library in Menenkyovo - are in Bulgaria.

Now, following a recent trip to the country where he met the Mayor of Belovo Municipality, Kostadin Varev, the Otley Mayor is considering taking on a third Bulgarian project.

He said: "Kostadin wishes to try and form closer links between Belovo and Otley and hopes that his local school and Prince Henry’s Grammar School can forge links.

"Belovo has a population of about 9,000 people but has suffered from the movement of young people to the west, in the hope of getting better jobs and more money.

"Kostadin explained that about 3,000 people have left their municipality and now, with an ageing population, he would like me to go over to Belovo and help set up a hospice for the elderly.

“It is indeed good to know that my charity work has got as far as Bulgaria - and certainly it would not only be demanding, but very challenging."

For now, though, Cllr Francis' focus is on generating as much money as possible for his mayoral appeal.

He has organised a string of events to support the campaign including, last week, a charity stall at Otley Buttercross.

He added: "At the moment I am raising as much money as I can in this country.

"Looking ahead we have a Christmas concert at the Methodist Church Hall, featuring the Otley Bell and Chime Orchestra, Otley Ukulele Orchestra and Otley Brass Band, on Saturday, November 25.

"Tickets are now on sale at only £5 for adults and £4 for concessions.

"Add to this our sale of Christmas cards and calendars and the soon-to-launch Snowman Trail and you can see it's all go."

The town's first Snowman Trail, which will feature 'snow' figures (which can be made of any material) made by local residents and businesses, will run from December 1 to 17.

More than 5,000 snowman entry forms have now been delivered in Otley - and can also be picked up from the Otley Core, on Orchard Gate, or the Colin Pitt garage on Leeds Road.

Forms, which must be returned by November 18, can also be obtained by sending an e-mail to: nigelfrancis@btinternet.com .