PLANS are afoot for Otley to host an annual Armed Forces Day.

The Town Mayor Councillor Peter Jackson is organising the new annual event as a way for the town to honour and support those who serve in the forces. Arrangements are still at an early stage but the aim is for the first Otley Armed Forces Day to take place on Sunday, July 5, 2020.

It would see military groups and other organisations marching through town to the Bridge End showground where a range of military stalls and displays will be set up alongside family-friendly attractions.

Cllr Jackson (who served in the Army, moving to the Military Police after joining the Guards) says the event will be strictly non party political. The organising committee was formed at a meeting this week.

Cllr Jackson said: “Otley Armed Forces Day is in the early stages of organising but I have received offers of help from many volunteers.

“The march route will be from the Auction Mart on Leeds road to the showground, where a salute will be given by VIP guests and there will be displays and stalls by military organisations, fun fair rides, food stalls and stalls from organisations that offer support to members and former members of our Armed Forces and their families.

“We have so far received interest from 4th battalion Yorkshire Regiment, the Yorkshire Battalion Band, Harrogate Foundation College, SSAFFA, Royal British Legion, Army Cadets, Sea Cadets, Band of The Royal Marines Cadets, Air Force Cadets plus many more.

“We will be submitting our management plan to Leeds City Council in the coming weeks: this has been made possible thanks to huge support from Otley Carnival Committee who have become experts in this legislation. We will look for more volunteers in the near future to cover things like marshals, gate control and arena stewards.”

Otley’s MP Alex Sobel is backing the move. He said: “I am in complete support of an Armed Forces day in Otley.

“There are many service personnel and former service personnel who live in Otley and in Leeds North West.

“It is important to honour those who serve in our armed forces with events like this. I thank Peter for his idea and will do all that I can to assist him.”

Cllr Jackson added: “Armed Forces Day events attract thousands of supporters which can only be good for Otley businesses. We hope this event will be a success so it can be held each year.” Local Armed Forces Day events must held within a week - on either side - of the national event, which is held on the last Saturday of June.