A WORLD champion cyclist, a historical weapons expert and a TV scientist are among the first Otley Ambassadors.

Otley Town Council has named a team of 16 individuals, chosen from the fields of sport, science, business, the arts and politics, who will represent the town in the new role.

They include champion cyclist Lizzie Deignan, BBC 1 One Show scientist Dr Marty Jopson, Olympic swimmer Georgia Coates, Royal Armouries Curator Rob Woosnam-Savage and Paralympic swimmer Danielle Bailey.

The other ambassadors are:

*Jen Birch of Otley Ukulele Orchestra, Town Poet Matthew Hedley Stoppard and Malcolm Hills of Morris dancing troupe Wharfedale Wayzgoose

*Otley Bellman Terry Ford, Blue Badge Guide Dudley Parker and CP Teens - a support group for young cerebral palsy sufferers - Ambassador Chloe Tear

*MP Greg Mulholland, Leeds City Council Leader Councillor Judith Blake and town council Chairman Councillor Ray Georgeson

*And local business professionals Paul Howard and Sally Hinchcliffe.

Chairman of the town council's Trade and Tourism Committee, Councillor Paul Carter, said: "We are delighted to announce the launch of our Honorary Ambassador Programme with such a high-profile and varied group of people.

"While they may all come from different backgrounds or sectors, they share one thing in common - a burning passion for Otley to succeed and a recognition of its future potential."

Many of the ambassadors were welcomed at an official launch ceremony held at Otta's Leah restaurant on Monday, February 27.

Lizzie Deignan couldn't attend due to racing commitments but sent this message: "Sorry I can't be with you tonight but I'm away training for my race season which starts this weekend with a one day race in Italy - the Strada Bianche.

"I can't wait to get racing again!

"In the meantime, I'm really proud to have the honour of representing my home town of Otley as an ambassador and look forward to joining you in supporting the town in the future."

Fellow ambassador and Otley Town Poet Matthew Hedley Stoppard said: "My role as an ambassador runs parallel to my role as town poet - to represent Otley as a literary town, where creativity is nurtured and encouraged.

"But it also involves inviting outsiders to Otley and to engage them in poetry, whether they like it or not!

"It's an honour to be an ambassador and town poet, and it spurs me on to think of more inventive ways to bring poetry to people."

Mr Mulholland added: "I am very honoured to have been chosen as an Otley Ambassador and look forward to working with the other ambassadors to promote Otley and increase tourism.

"I am delighted that, following my suggestion of creating a tourism strategy for the town, the Town Council have now done this and am very pleased to take on this role to support it.

"Otley and the surrounding area has a lot to offer day and weekend visitors and I hope the new tourism drive will encourage more people to come to enjoy the town, the Chevin and surrounding countryside and, of course spend money in our shops, pubs, cafes and restaurants."

The honorary ambassadors will hold their role indefinitely, though the project is initially envisaged to run for three years.

The initiative is part of the council's multi-pronged strategy to boost tourism and raise Otley's profile and is being supported by Otley BID, Otley Town Partnership and Otley Chamber of Trade and Commerce.