OTLEY Carnival stars have been shining in the local community ahead of the big day on Saturday, June 15.

Appointed in March, the 22 enthusiastic pupils from Otley and Askwith Primary Schools, have been dedicating their free time to making a positive impact locally.

This carnival stars initiative, now in its second year, honours the memory of Sarah Jackson, who led the inaugural programme in 2023. She died in August last year following a sudden and catastrophic brain bleed.

Sarah's Carnival Stars, supported by their families, volunteer their weekends and school holidays to assist local community groups and organisations.

Carnival stars taking part in balsam bashing Carnival stars taking part in balsam bashing

The stars have engaged in a variety of activities this year, including: serving lunch at the Otley Action for Older People lunch clubs; litter picking and Himalayan Balsam Bashing for Otley Town Council; supporting fundraising events for the Prickly Pigs Hedgehog Rescue; visiting and playing games with residents of Spring Gardens Residential Home; leaflet dropping for Otley Cycle Club; marshalling at the Chevin Park Run and of course, supporting the Otley Carnival Committee with activities such as bake sales, distributing the winning carnival poster and the window competition awards.

The stars also have plans to collaborate with the Friends of Otley Chevin and Homeless Hampers, further expanding their community impact. Local groups are encouraged to contact the carnival committee if they have volunteering opportunities for the stars.

Nicola Horner and Kelly Laurenson, stars co-ordinators, heaped praise on the youngsters saying their commitment and selflessness were an inspiration to all.

"We’re incredibly proud of the stars for getting stuck in this year and making a real difference in their local community. Their enthusiasm and dedication are truly inspiring. These young people are amazing, and we’re really excited to see the continued positive impact they will have," they said.

The carnival stars serving lunch at Otley Action for Older People The carnival stars serving lunch at Otley Action for Older People

The stars will be celebrated on Otley Carnival Day - Saturday, June 15 - with their own float, which they will decorate themselves. Their hard work will be honoured on stage at the carnival field, where each star will receive a trophy in recognition of their hard work and dedication.

Nicola and Kelly added: "The carnival stars programme, although still in its infancy, holds great promise for the future. It is a shining example of how young people can contribute significantly to their communities. With such dedicated young people in our schools, the initiative is set to thrive for years to come, making a lasting difference in Otley and beyond."

The Otley Garden Centre generously sponsors the stars programme, providing t-shirts, certificates, trophies, and a wrap party for the volunteers at the end of their yearly term. The carnival committee extends heartfelt thanks to the garden centre for their invaluable support.

The Otley Carnival takes place on Saturday, June 15, leaving the Auction Mart on Leeds Road at 12.30pm followed by entertainment at the carnival field at Bridge End.