The success and continued growth of Stockton's markets has been nationally recognised with a Great British Market Award.
Stockton's High Street market, alongside Haverhill Youth market, won the award for hosting the 'Best Love Your Local Market Event' with its innovative 'Random Acts of Kindness' event held in May 2014.
Stockton's iconic 700 year-old traditional market was transformed as a team of Council officers and volunteers combined to bring a feel-good factor to the High Street.
A variety of gifts including hessian bags, umbrellas, weekly bus passes, cinema tickets and even free hugs were handed out to unsuspecting market visitors.
Market traders and businesses generously offered their support by donating gifts and by wearing branded clothing and dressing their stalls, fully embracing the ethos of the event.
More than 926 markets took part in the event across the United Kingdom, with Stockton's entry gaining praise for the strong uptake of the event within the community and for its success in securing the support of local business and traders.
Councillor Mike Smith, Stockton Council's Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Transport, said: "We have a strong heritage of popular markets in Stockton Town Centre and across the Borough.
"Stockton's Love Your Local Market event was an original and memorable occasion and this Great British Market Award simply serves to highlight its success.
"I would like to congratulate all of the team, businesses and traders involved for their dedication in striving to ensure our local markets continue to represent a vibrant place to shop and excellent value for our residents."
Stockton is also hosting a National Association of British Market Authorities conference on Wednesday 11 March where officials will meet to discuss the latest issues facing markets and also take in a tour of the High Street Market.
For more information on the regeneration of Stockton Town Centre and to view the 2015 programme for Stockton's specialist markets, visit www.rediscoverstockton.co.uk