DURHAM city centre's manager is leaving after 18 months in the job.

Chris Rawlinson helped to organise the successful Durham Christmas Festival last year. She will take-up a similar role in Colchester early next month once this year's Christmas build-up is under way in Durham.

Members of the Durham City Forum, a trade and business group, is now being asked to make contributions to help fund a successor for the next three years.

She has already made a big input to this year's seasonal festivities, under the banner: Durham is Different this Christmas.

She will stay in the post until after the Christmas Festival, over the weekend of November 30/December 1, having overseen the launch of the city's temporary winter ice rink and new Christmas lights on November 14.

She said: "I've thoroughly enjoyed my time here. It's a pleasure to work in such a city."

A statement by city forum joint chairmen Colin Wilkes and Peter Bennion said: "Chris has done a tremendous amount of work pulling together so many facets of the city, proving that the forum can, and does, work in partnership to build a better city centre for Durham."

Mrs Rawlinson, from Lancashire, was Sunderland city centre manager for four years before succeeding Durham's first ever city centre manager, Barry Turnbull, in April 2001.