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Local History Month - triumph out of adversity

Middlesbrough's 'virtual' Local History Month has been heralded as the most popularly followed in its decade-long existence reaching more than 15,000 people.

The event, which was held throughout May was planned to be the first to link in with a new Stockton Local History Month.

Unfortunately when the Coronavirus lockdown occurred the event, like so many others was faced with cancellation.

However, ingenious organisers quickly re-modelled the entire programme to create a packed online joint Middlesbrough-Stockton Local History Month.

Robert Nichols, one of the Local History Month organisers, said it was the most popularly followed Local History Month ever with more than 15,000 Teessiders logging in to the virtual events. He has now listed all of the LHM Heroes who made the event a success.

He said: "There could be no walks, talks or open days and exhibitions. Yet a meeting of minds around a zoom screen formulated a new virtual programme which actually has become the most popular Local History Month ever held in Middlesbrough.

"With people isolated at home it was also surely the most important ever. We were told time and again through the lock-down month of Mat just how much this month of daily virtual events and talks meant to people self-isolating at home.

"It also brought Middlesbrough and Stockton together to share this important month of thinking about the places and the faces that were the making of both boroughs.

"The decision was made to take Local History into homes through the computers, laptops, tablets and mobile phones through social media.

"Now that lockdown is easing people of Middlesbrough and Stockton have a new treasure trove of landmarks, paths, tracks, sites of myth and folklore to explore.

"May Local History Month was like none before but has opened up many possibilities for the future. It shows once again that we have a passion for our local history as well as a pioneering spirit to both discover and communicate those personal stories of places and faces. It was a local triumph out of adversity and a gateway for future exploration."

Cllr Mieka Smiles, Middlesbrough Council's Executive Member for Culture and Communities, said: "I take my hat off to everyone involved in Local History Month who came together so quickly to turn this brilliant annual event into a month-long online occasion marking Teesside's history.

"It was not only the most well received for numbers who followed the online events but given the lockdown situation probably the most important and I'm sure everyone who watched enjoyed them and appreciated the efforts that went into making them happen."

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