AN HONORARY citizen of Otley has been awarded an MBE.

Peter Heald was named in the New Year Honours List in recognition of his 'services to the business and the community in West Yorkshire'.

Mr Heald is the owner and a director of Lunds of Otley and is a director of Otley Town Partnership, where he helps manage the group's farmers markets, and Otley BID.

The 68 year old is also part of the town's Neighbourhood Planning group and a member, and past president, of both Otley Chamber of Trade and Otley Rotary Club.

His contribution to the local community over many years, dating back to when he began working in the town in 1974, saw him named an Honorary Citizen of Otley in 2014.

He said: "I got a letter from the Cabinet Office at the end of November and when I opened the envelope and saw what it was it came as a huge shock.

"I then had to keep quiet about it until it was publicly confirmed on December 29 - and I'm still trying to find out who nominated me!

"I'm absolutely delighted and humbled that people would go to the trouble of nominating me."

Although well-known as an 'Otley man' Mr Heald actually lives in the Headingley area of Leeds.

He said: "A lot of people are surprised when they find that out but I've spent virtually all my working life in Otley and spend an awful lot of my time here.

"I've always been a bit of a workaholic and did long hours, working Saturdays too, so it was only really Sundays I had at home.

"I can remember many years ago now Trevor Backhouse - from Patisserie Viennoise - coming down to ask me to join the Chamber of Trade, and that's when I really got involved with Otley's business community."

Otley BID Chair Steph Lee, posting her reaction online, said: "Just heard the news that my great friend Peter Heald has been awarded an MBE in the New Year Honours List.

"Very well deserved."

Speaking to the Wharfeadale & Aireborough Observer, she added: "Peter is the type of person who, if asked for help, very rarely refuses.

"As a consequence of his generosity he can be seen helping Otley Carnival with its stage, sorting out tables for the Christmas trees in the church, erecting flags around town...the list goes on.

"Peter lives in Headingley which is even more remarkable, when everything he does is for Otley."

Dozens of others also took to Facebook to pass on their congratulations, including Otley Carnival Treasurer Ann Steval.

She said: "Wonderful news.

"So very well deserved. Great to see someone who works so hard for our community honoured."

Fellow Otley businessman James Barber posted: "Well deserved. Peter has done so much for Otley and for other people."

Otley Town Council Chairman Ray Georgeson said: "Congratulations Peter, very well deserved recognition - enjoy your day at the Palace when it comes."

Rhona Smith added: "Heartiest congratulations Peter, a well deserved recognition of all your work for Otley and its community."

Mr Heald can now look forward to being officially presented with his MBE at Buckingham Palace later in the year.