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Mayor hits £20,000 fundraising target
Otley’s Mayor has defied sceptics – and the recession – by hitting a £20,000-in-a-year fundraising target.
Councillor Nigel Francis, in his final act as Town Mayor, kept those gathered at the town council’s annual general meeting on Monday guessing his grand total until the last minute.
He then produced a large cheque for £19,000, before producing a smaller one for the remaining £1,000.
In his retiring speech, Coun Francis admitted the pressure of trying to bring in the appeal money while both working and honouring his other commitments – which include running the Hang on to a Dream charity and organising Yeadon Carnival and Otley Vintage Transport Extravaganza – had “nearly killed” him.
He said: “I’ve been Town Mayor on three occasions now and I know that’s something very rare, but if you asked me if could see myself doing it again, I’d have to think twice. I’ve had to burn the candle not just at both ends, but in the middle too this year to balance everything.
“With hindsight, to try to raise £20,000 on top of everything else was just stupid, but I’ve always said it’s better to try and fail than to not have tried in the first place.
“Throughout the year every time we’ve had an outdoor event it’s rained. But we’ve staged some of the biggest events ever staged by a Town Mayor, including the Showaddywaddy show in Ilkley.
“I must also say a massive thank you to my small band of loyal helpers. Trying to raise £20,000 involved many other people too, including all the shopkeepers who were happy to take our posters and leaflets for events, and the public who turned out to support them.”
He thanked and made presentations to his wife Diane and son Callum, who were his mayoress and consort, and James Blackie for helping deliver “70,000-plus leaflets and letters” for the appeal.
Councillor Mary Vickers (Lib Dem, Prince Henry), who took over from Coun Francis as Mayor at the meeting, praised his achievement.
She said: “You have certainly brought your own inimitable style to the office of Mayor. You took on providing support for 20 charities and that was a massive challenge.
“You worked tirelessly to raise £20,000 and should be very proud of your achievement and the support you have gained for your charities, who will benefit greatly.
“I am sure everyone in this room would like to say thank you and well done.”
The money from Coun Francis’s 20x20 Appeal, some money for which is still coming in, will give a £1,000 boost to 20 good causes.
Cheques were presented to Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue, Hang on to a Dream and the RNLI at the meeting.
The other groups who will benefit are: St George’s Crypt, Martin House Hospice, Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Otley Market Square Christmas Crib, Yeadon RAF Cadet Band, Help for Heroes, church restoration in Akandjaevo, the Bel equipment appeal, Otley Action for Older People, St Gemma’s Hospice, Wheatfields Hospice, Fire Brigade Benevolent Fund, Otley in Bloom, Replacement seats for Otley, International Rescue and Otley Christmas lights.