A POEM called "Sexy Baz's Birds" has helped a college lecturer to become poet laureate in his home town for a year.

Andy Willoughby, a lecturer in performing arts and higher education at Darlington College of Technology, is the new poet laureate for Middlesbrough.

The 37-year-old submitted three poems in a competition run by Cleveland Arts and Middlesbrough Rotary Club.

"Sexy Baz's Birds" told the story of how his best friend in a teenage band that never made it - "Sexy Baz" Paul Barron - had his birds stolen from his aviary in Eston.

"I just wanted to show what life in Eston could be like, how it could be a bit rough at times and how you have to face reality without letting go of your dreams," said Mr Willoughby.

The competition was open to people born in Middlesbrough who were asked to submit poems about the town. Mr Willoughby won and was inaugurated on Saturday at the Town Hall.

As part of the prize he will have a pamphlet of his work published at the end the year.

"I was really pleased to win, particularly because I am from Middlesbrough," he said. "It is an honour to represent my community and celebrate its proud working class history."

His other poems were "The Wrong California", about the "gold rush" for iron ore from the Eston Hills, and "The Shaft", about a couple making love on top of an old mine shaft where hundreds of people had died digging for iron.

Mr Willoughby has been writing poetry since he was a teenager. He performs regularly at the Verb Garden Club, in Middlesbrough, the Colpitts, in County Durham, and runs a cabaret in Darlington Arts Centre, called the Hydrogen Jukebox.