MEET the man taking community spirit to a whole new level.

Carl Marshall not only works in Stanley, County Durham, he represents the town as a county councillor, creates jobs and has established an organisation dedicated to helping train long-term unemployed people find work.

It doesn’t end there.

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Mr Marshall, 36, is also behind Stanley Events.

He said: “The idea of Stanley Events began with a pub conversation with friends.

“We agreed something was needed to create a summer feel-good factor around the town.

"So we arranged a community meeting where 60 people turned up and basically said, 'great idea – crack on, Carl!', so I did.

Derwentside District Council had, for years, backed the Stanley Blues Festival, but withdrew funding, which meant we no longer got the economic boost of 15,000 families turning up for the event.

“We wanted to do something similar, but not be dependent on council hand-outs.

"I’ve never been backward in coming forward, so we started work on the Stanley Music Festival, which brought 3,500 people to the town and a significant boost to our economy.

"But, most importantly, we realised we could organise and stage large-scale family-friendly events.”

Stanley Events was established in 2011 and has since developed a programme of free or affordable community events, supported by families living in and around Stanley, the largest of which, Stanley Fireworks Festival, brings 10,000 families to the town every November.

Mr Marshall said: “It’s crazy how fast things have grown, but to use a clunky metaphor, it was the fireworks that set off the spark of an idea that led us to provide free training for out of work people in the town.

“Stanley has high deprivation levels, but fantastic community spirit.

"We have high unemployment, but there is a desire from people to find work.

"Many just need to know there is an organisation on their doorstep to help them take that first step on the career ladder.”

As the popularity of the fireworks display grew, Mr Marshall and the team realised they needed more stewarding and there was a shortage of qualified stewards in the town.

So, in 2014, Stanley Events established a training programme, now based in Stanley Community Football Club (which Stanley Events has taken over, and has become the base for Beamish Juniors FC) and the firm has trained more than 300 local people in AUSSE accreditation (stewarding), SIA (door supervision), health and safety, event rigging, fire safety and a variety of other qualifications - with 72 people scheduled for support this year.

Mr Marshall said: “I am no Richard Branson.

"Up until recently, Stanley Events made enough money to wash its face and recruit a small team of part-time employees, but the point of the company was never to make anyone rich.

"The point is to create something that’s good for the town.

“The events bring in tens of thousands of pounds.

"The training has helped 300 people access employment opportunities that might otherwise have been closed off to them and we have saved a community sporting facility that’s now pretty much booked every night of the week.

"So long as Stanley Events is growing and doing well, the town will benefit too.”

The core aim of helping local people gain experience and qualifications to support them into secure and stable employment is at the heart of everything the organisation does.

Stanley Events has four part-time employees: two leisure attendants who run Stanley Community Football Club, an apprentice groundsman and a part-time manager.

The firm employs 60 casual staff as events stewards and SIA stewards.

There is also the devoted team of volunteers, who help deliver all events.

Such has been the success of Stanley Events, it has been approached by two councils to organise concerts and fireworks displays, winning a contract to manage three events for Spennymoor Town Council and arranging festivals and fireworks displays in Chester-le-Street.

Mr Marshall added: “I often read this feature in The Northern Echo and marvel at some of the things North-East entrepreneurs are inventing or the incredible places they are working.

“However, for me it’s always been about helping the community that has helped me.

"It’s about providing events that make people feel good and it’s about giving people who feel they have no hope of finding a job that bit of help to give them confidence to push themselves and find employment.

“I applaud anyone and everyone breaking into new markets overseas, but for me, my business is Stanley and the communities around the town, and if I am successful they will be the ones benefiting.”