Chris Woodward is halfway through his term of office as Mayor of Witney. Stuart Rust found out what makes him so dedicated to the town, and why he just won't stop smiling.

A SMILING mayor has used his role as a town ambassador to promote everything that’s ‘awesome’ about Witney.

Anybody looking at a photograph of Witney's mayor Chris Woodward donning his mayoral chains will, more often than not, find he is also donning his trademark grin.

It isn’t for nothing. He believes that Witney’s community is something to smile about – and he’s keen for more people to know why.

From LibFest to Witney Music Festival to the town’s annual Christmas celebrations, Witney’s community, Mr Woodward says, is something special – and should, in an age of bad news, be celebrated.

Mr Woodward was born and raised in the heart of Witney's community.

His parents, Keith and Denny Woodward, ran The Plough, in High Street, and that is where he spent the first several years of his life.

After that, aged about nine, he moved to live with his family in Blakes Avenue.

He attended Ducklington Primary School and then The Henry Box School.

He would go on to serve the latter school as a caretaker for nearly a decade.

Now, he is the facilities manager at The Iffley Academy in Oxford.

His desire to get involved in local politics was the result of his innate sense of duty to help those around him.

He said: "I wanted to do my bit.

"If you want to try and affect change then stand up and be counted.

"If you don't try you're not going to achieve it.

"I went into local politics because I had something to contribute."

The 32-year-old first won a seat on Witney Town Council in the 2011 elections, representing the south ward.

It was, as with any new councillor, a bit of a steep learning curve at the time.

He said: "It definitely takes time. The first year I almost just watched.

"There are so many policies and procedures and rules."

Mr Woodward quickly acquired the new skills he needed and was made the chairman of the leisure and recreation committee, a role he held for about two years.

He said: "Nothing grows your confidence so quickly as being thrust into the fire.

"Sometimes you need to be pushed in at the deep end and either sink or swim."

Far from sink, Mr Woodward flourished in the role and it enabled him to do exactly what he wanted when joining the council: help people and promote and support the town.

He learned a lot when, prior to him taking the chains in May this year, he served as deputy mayor to Chris Holliday.

Mr Holliday was, like Mr Woodward, dedicated to the community, a trait reflected on his catchphrase: "It's all about people."

Mr Holliday's mayorship served as the perfect springboard to Mr Woodward's.

Mr Woodward said: "I've tried to do things with so much positivity because there's so much worth celebrating.

"You've only got to see the crowds at the Christmas lights switch on, at Libfest, at Remembrance Sunday, to see that people love Witney and they will come out in their masses to show their support."

It is no secret that Mr Woodward has a passion for Witney that is difficult to match, something made clear by his frequent use of the word 'awesome'.

But what is it that's so awesome about the town?

He continued: "What makes Witney so awesome is the community of people.

"People don't realise how lucky they are but when I go up and down the country I always compare it to Witney.

"I always think 'this place is missing something that Witney's got' or 'it's nice but not as nice as Witney'."

A great deal of his inspiration is taken from his wife Jayne.

The two met in 2011 at the Ducklington Flower Show, where he was chief steward – a role he said has since come in handy when judging for Witney Horticultural Society.

The two enjoyed a whirlwind romance and tied the knot a year later on December 15, 2012.

He said: "I try and be the mayor Jayne would want.

"She's my best friend and a good coach.

"She's been a very good compass for me and the way I do things."

In February, a new journey will begin for Mr Woodward when the couple welcome a baby girl into the world.

The news, coupled with his time as mayor, has made this a very special year for Mr Woodward. As the couple now live in Brize Norton and Mr Woodward works in Oxford, it means that he will soon have to step down from his role on the council.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Mr Woodward even shines a positive light on this fact – and simply hopes the town's next mayor gets as much enjoyment out of the role as he has.

He said: "I know that I probably won't do a second term as mayor but I would like people to think, you know what, he helped where he could.

"I want to be remembered for being positive if anything.

"I want to be known as the smiling mayor. And in most pictures if I've got my chains I've also got a whopping great big grin on my face.

"I just hope whoever becomes mayor has as much fun as I did."