FORMER Prime Minister Tony Blair has thrown his support behind County Durham’s City of Culture 2025 bid after highlighting the benefits of spending his formative years within the historic city.

The ex-Labour leader moved to Durham when he was just five years old after his father accepted a job at the university – and so started a long association between the politician to be and the city he lived for many years.

With the City of Culture 2025 big judges visiting Durham later today, and marking the city on its historical qualities, cultural offerings and diverse range of shops, activities and restaurants, the former PM has spoken to The Northern Echo about why County Durham should land the impressive accolade of ‘City of Culture’.

Read more: UK City of Culture: Why County Durham should win the bid

He has described the historical significance, the dominant cathedral, and the Norman architecture as just a few reasons why Durham should beat Bradford, Southampton, and Wrexham, and claim the top cultural prize.

Mr Blair said: “Durham City holds a special place in my heart. Its where I was brought up, spent the formative years of my youth, and experienced the strange journey from child through adolescence to adulthood. It was my spiritual home.

“But Durham is a special City to me irrespective of my personal connection to it. It is of course dominated by its Cathedral, that magnificent example of Norman architecture which fills the landscape with its majestic beauty and size. Then there is the Castle and all the surrounding College Green, with the University giving all the traditional buildings a contemporary relevance and elegance.”

The Northern Echo: County Durham is on the City of Culture 2025 shortlist. Picture: NORTHERN ECHO.County Durham is on the City of Culture 2025 shortlist. Picture: NORTHERN ECHO.

It's expected that when the judges visit later today, and similar visits are made to the three other competitors in the shortlist, a decision will be announced later in May by Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries.

Mr Blair added: “As a place of culture, it has been exceptional through the centuries, inspired great paintings, works of art and intellectual endeavour.

“As the City of Culture, it would stand out. Its claims for such an honour are obvious and clear. I would love it to succeed.”

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