STUDENTS were urged to pursue their dreams by a North-East MP - who didn’t achieve his until he was 55.

Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham revisited his old school in Darlington as part of a day long careers extravaganza.

The 59-year-old spent the morning with students at Darlington School of Mathematics and Science, where he attended between the age of 11 and 16 in the 1960s when it was then Branksome Comprehensive School.

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He was re-presented with an English award he first picked up in 1969 as a fourth year student, the Richard Luck Trophy, which was found at the back of the school’s prize cabinet.

He told students attending a session organised by the alumni charity Future First: “I enjoyed my time at the school and in the mock exams did really well.

“Then I blew it in the finals because I thought I knew everything. It proves you always need to look forward. It is vital to have some dreams, to hold on to them and just go for it.”

After leaving school Mr Cunningham was inspired by the story of former Darlington MP Ted Fletcher, who fought in the Spanish Civil War against the fascists.

But it took him 40 years to live his dream and be elected to Parliament, where he is now parliamentary private secretary to the shadow justice secretary.

“After leaving school I ended up gutting chickens, working in stock control at Flymo before studying A levels at Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College and journalism at Darlington College,” he said.

Mr Cunningham then worked for the Darlington & Stockton Times, Radio Tees (now TFM), before heading PR operations at Transco and running his own communications business.