D2025 inflatable in Durham Cathedral
D2025 inflatable in Durham Cathedral

In Mary’s most recent column for the Northern Echo, she discussed how transformative winning the City of Culture 2025 bid would be. You can read the full column on the Northern Echo website and below:


Week by week we edge ever closer to learning whether Durham will be crowned as the UK’s City of Culture for 2025. Since making the final four, the bid’s campaign has gathered real momentum with local communities and businesses from across our great county working with organisers to make sure the judges see the very best of Durham. There are increasingly few local landmarks where the campaign’s eye-catching, pink giant inflatable logo has not photo-bombed in recent weeks.

This week the campaign has reached Westminster, where I joined colleagues from across the county to speak in a special debate in the House of Commons on the Durham City of Culture bid, although sadly the giant pink inflatable was not in attendance.

In the debate, it was wonderful to hear voices from across the political divide uniting to draw attention to the county’s unique assets. From the stunning skyline of the castle and cathedral, that make up the Unesco world heritage site in my own constituency, to the coast in the east and rural dales in the west on the county, our cultural heritage touches every corner of the county – and that is why it was fantastic that MPs joined to back the first county-wide bid for city of culture.

Make no mistake – although integral, Durham’s bid is about far more than honouring our history. The campaign has adopted the motto of the Durham Miners Association: “The past we inherit – the future we build.” Those profound words carry great weight in our county. They are deeply significant to me – I uttered them in my maiden speech in the House of Commons – and I know many people across Durham share my view.

The words of the Durham miners resonate so strongly with this bid because what is the City of Culture, if not an opportunity to shape Durham’s future.

Durham 2025 will not provide a magic wand to the challenges the county faces, it provides a unique opportunity to utilise our area’s strengths, kickstart investment, and to help our county realise it’s enormous potential. This investment will undoubtedly act as a springboard, to showcase our new and existing culture, as it has enabled the previous winners such as Hull and Coventry.

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