THE mayor elect of Witney has pledged his unfailing passion for the town as he prepares to bear the weight of the gold chains.

Chris Woodward is set to become one of the town's youngest mayors, aged just 31, and said he hoped to be remembered during his one-year stint as 'the smiling mayor' as he prepares to take over from current mayor Chris Holliday.

Mr Woodward recently moved to Brize Norton but spent the first 12 years of his life in The Plough in Witney's High Street, before moving to Cogges.

He said: "I've got massive shoes to fill in following Chris and previous mayors. They've all made such tremendous strides in ambassadorial work for Witney. I only hope I live up to what's gone before me.

"It's a bit of a running joke that Chris never smiles. I hope to be remembered as the one that met the people, and the one that smiled.

"I'm biased but, without a shadow of a doubt, Witney is the most beautiful market town in the country - it's awesome."

Mr Woodward has served as a Conservative town councillor since 2011 for the Burwell ward and is currently deputy mayor, but is set to take a step up and receive his mayoral chains in May.

He works as a facilities manager at The Iffley Academy in Oxford and lives with his wife Jayne and their two-year-old dog Meg.

He said: "Those who know me know there is no bigger advocate for Witney. The community here is such a wonderful thing, people get involved and help out. They don't like to see people in strife. They are some of the kindest, most generous people I know.

Mr Woodward said he hoped to inspire a younger generation to get into local politics, adding: "It's not boring and stuffy. Witney Town Council has a good turnover and in the last couple of years there's been a real invigoration of fresh ideas."

He said the introduction last year of a Witney Town Council leader alongside a Mayor of Witney meant the latter was more accessible for residents, adding: "It shifts politics back on the leader and the mayor is unshackled, and can get out and meet people and say hello.

"It's all about people. If, in a year's time, people can say 'Chris was a good mayor who always had a smile on his face', I'll know I'll have done a decent job."

His role as a town councillor will end in 2018 due to his move out of Witney, but he hopes to make his mark before then.

Mr Woodward's mayor making ceremony will take place at the town council's annual meeting on May 10.