THE OTLEY Snowman Trail has been cancelled.

The annual fundraiser has fallen victim, like fellow festive events including Otley Victorian Fayre and the town’s Christmas Tree Festival, to the impact of the coronavirus.

Organiser and Town Councillor Nigel Francis had until recently hoped to still stage the event, which asks residents and businesses to produce snow figures which then form a trail, despite the pandemic.

But the obstacles he faced became insurmountable after the second national lockdown was announced.

Cllr Francis, who runs the Snowman Trail with his son, Callum, for the Hang on to a Dream children’s charity, said: “It was never going to be easy to run any event in the present climate, but we felt that as it was outdoors the Snowman Trail would be one event that could go ahead.

“The letters to the shops and houses were printed and everything was put into place when the first problem arose; the fact that the Christmas Tree Festival, along with the turning on of the Otley Christmas Lights and the Victorian Fayre were all cancelled meant we had a problem in distributing the booklets for the trail.

“We came up with a solution: we would use the Buttercross stall for three days during November and December to hand out the booklets.

“Work was started on the booklets but then, when the Government introduced a second full lockdown, it meant we could not use the Buttercoss and also that over half the businesses in town were shut so we could not try and sell advertising and snowmen to them.

“That gave us no option but to cancel this year’s Snowman Trail.”

Some related activities will still be taking place, however, as Callum explained.

He said: “I will be working on a virtual Snowman Trail where people can take a picture of their snowman in their home or business and post it on social media by using the hashtag #VirtualSnowmanTrail and tagging us @OtleySnowman on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

“We will also have a number of competitions and games for young people to do.

“They will be able to send in their work via our website - - and there will be small prizes for the competition winners.”

The trail, like the annual Otley Vintage Transport Extravaganza, is a community-based fundraising event that is run by the Francis family.

Cllr Francis is the Chair of Hang on to a Dream, which provides special gifts and experiences for young people with life threatening illnesses.