LEDBURY'S new mayor, Coun Robert "Bob" Barnes, says he is looking forward to a challenging year, despite being almost twice as old as the previous mayor.

Coun Barnes, aged 63, said humorously that the gruelling Eastnor "Mud-Runner" challenge, which was famously tackled by his predecessor, Coun Terry Widdows, was not for him.

Instead, Coun Barnes, who was born and raised in Wellington Heath, is planning a number of fund-raising events, such as coffee mornings, for his chosen mayoral charities.

These are the Ledbury Branch of the Royal British Legion and the Herefordshire Branch of the Soldiers, Sailors, Airman and Families Association (SSFA).

Coun Barnes said: "This is in recognition of the service of members of my family. My parents, grandparents and uncles all served during the wars."

Coun Barnes is also keen that important dates and battles of World War II should be remembered on this, their seventieth anniversary year.

These include D-Day, Kohima, Anzio, and Monte Cassino. Coun Barnes's own father fought in Italy, during World War II.

Coun Barnes said that becoming mayor was "a great honour", and that his wife, Carol, aged 57, was very much looking forward to being mayoress.

He said: "I never had any ambition of being mayor when I first became a councillor, but now I look forward to it. It is going to be a challenge."

One issue that is likely to be prominent is whether or not a lift should be installed in Ledbury's Market House, the town's iconic building, which dates back to the seventeenth century

Coun Barnes said: "If a lift is not installed, are we just going to pay to keep it empty?"

He added: "We can't put the town guides up there, because there are no amenities, such as water and toilets; but that is where they should be, in my opinion."

Without a lift, the Market House also lacks disabled access.

In making his acceptance speech as major, Coun Barnes said of the role: "I hope we can go forward together, drawing on our collective experience and common sense, - no politics, - to make the right decisions for the town and the people of this town."

The new deputy mayor is Coun Rob Yeoman, described by Coun Barnes as "an excellent addition to the team".