A FORMER Lord Mayor of York who helped run two successful seasons of Mystery Plays has offered to help ensure they are staged again in future.

Keith Wood was vice-chairman of the York Festival Board in 1980, with responsibility for the Plays - staged at that time in the Museum Gardens.

He was chairman of the board in 1984, again with similar responsibilities.

Now he has offered to join a prospective board which the Evening Press is hoping will be set up in an attempt to save the long-standing Mystery Plays tradition.

Mr Wood, an honorary alderman who served as a city councillor for Heworth for more than 20 years until the early 1990s, would bring a wealth of experience with him to the role.

His first experience of the Plays was in the 1960s when he was involved in the production itself, primarily with stage lighting.

After becoming a councillor, he became involved in the York Festival, which in those days was held every four years, with the Plays as the centrepiece.

He says both the Plays seasons with which he was involved made a profit within the budget, with 94 per cent of tickets being sold for the 1984 production.

Mr Wood, who runs the 15-bedroom Ascot House Guest House, in East Parade, Heworth, with his wife, June, and son, Rob, also served for about 12 years as vice-chairman of the York Theatre Royal board.

He is also a director of York Tourism Bureau, which has expressed deep concerns about the impact on tourism in York if the Plays are not staged again.

He said that being involved in the Plays was like being part of a family. "That's very important."

He said he would love to see the Plays return to the Museum Gardens, where they were staged from 1951 until 1988.

"It was a wonderful setting on a clear, still evening, like the ones we have been getting recently, as the light slowly faded and the suspense built on stage."

He said technology had improved over the years, and he believed a modern stand could be sited in the gardens.

His offer of assistance comes only days after businessman Steve Bielby, a health and safety expert and president of the York Society of Engineers, offered to join the board.

o If you are interested in joining the board, please email mike.laycock@ycp.co.uk.