Recently, early one morning, before we had opened the shop, at about 7am (we’d already been up baking for a few hours and doing the early delivery rounds), I looked out of the door and I saw a mother with her child. We started talking and she told me that the two of them had just been up the Chevin to watch the sunrise and wondered if we had any croissants that she and her daughter could have for their breakfast. Of course we did – freshly baked! Somehow to me, this meeting said a lot to me about what Otley is all about.
As many of you know, being a part of the Otley community means a lot to me. And so when I was appointed to be an Otley Ambassador in March of this year as part of the newly launched Otley Honorary Ambassadors Programme, I was absolutely delighted and proud. I’m serving for my community alongside fifteen others including champion cyclist and 2017 Women’s Tour de Yorkshire winner 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.
It’s important to me to be invited to take on this role. I’m always going on about how great Otley is and now I have even more of a reason to do so!
Otley has really developed during the last decade. There’s a real buzz about our traditional market town and I can see that people appreciate both the old and the new. This is a real market town. It’s down to earth and unpretentious and that’s what the people who come here want. They’re looking for a community that offers integrity and a grass roots sensibility.
The property market is buoyant and lots of families are moving into Otley. And why not? It’s a great place to bring up a family, with excellent schools and facilities, not to mention the wonderful countryside we’re surrounded with that provides instant weekend activities. And for those working in Leeds the commute is quite manageable.
Otley is a really attractive place for businesses: as well as thriving existing businesses, there are many people moving here and setting up businesses. Which is good for business! We’re thriving and that’s great. From my perspective as someone running a successful bakery that supplies both retail through our Otley shop and wholesale throughout Leeds, I’m delighted to see the town centre bustling with life. The farmers’ market is always busy, as are the supermarkets and independent businesses – shops, cafes, restaurants – in town.
Otley has loads of interesting groups, clubs and societies that people can get involved in, there are wonderful organisations such as the Otley Ukulele Orchestra (whose leader Jen Birch is also an Ambassador), we have a town poet (Matthew Hedley Stoppard, also an Ambassador) and we also have wonderful support groups for those who need them. To me this is what community is all about – people helping and supporting each other and enjoying the world around them – like the mother and daughter who enjoyed that beautiful sunrise on the Chevin and then came back down into town to enjoy the rest of their day.