A five-year programme to reconnect local people with the famous River Tees has been launched to an audience of private, public and third sector representatives.
The River Tees Rediscovered programme will promote the lower Tees Valley through a variety of coordinated projects from Darlington to the estuary.
The Heritage Lottery Fund supported Landscape Partnership Scheme was unveiled at a special 'River Tees Rediscovered - Welcome Aboard!' reception held at Middlesbrough College.
The event was attended by representatives from local business and industry, and senior leaders from the public and third sectors.
Doug Nicholson, Chair of River Tees Rediscovered, said: "The River Tees is the greatest natural asset in the area and this will be the first time it has been developed as a whole. We view this project as a real opportunity to change perceptions about our river and our area, to look through fresh eyes at the beauty and drama of the landscape today and to celebrate this great asset at the heart of Teesside.
"Our aim is to reconnect the people of the Tees with their river through telling the engaging story of the River Tees as a natural feature that has moulded the physical and cultural development of the landscape and communities through which it runs. Ultimately, our success will be dependent on attracting support and involvement from local people and organisations and there will be many different ways to get involved."
A number of separate community launch events will take place throughout the project area during February and March.
These will include taster sessions and guided walks to encourage local people to get involved in the project.
Anne-Louise Orange, the Delivery Manager for the project, added: "This is an exciting time with many opportunities to reconnect with the River Tees and explore what the river corridor has to offer. There will be volunteering opportunities and conservation skills training such as footpath creation and maintenance as well as more traditional skills, including blacksmithing, pottery, wood carving and instrument making.
"Community archaeology projects will explore local history, with river surveys to understand more about what lives in the Tees and its becks. A varied activities and events programme will be delivered to celebrate and promote our heritage, showcasing how people can be involved."
Groundwork NE & Cumbria received confirmation of a grant of £1.89m from the National Lottery via the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for the River Tees Rediscovered Landscape Partnership project in June last year. Along with partner contributions, a delivery programme worth £3.7m will be delivered over the next five years. A number of complementary projects including access and wildlife improvements will focus on the River Tees corridor, from the estuary to upstream of Piercebridge in Darlington.
For more information on the project and events, please visit www.riverteesrediscovered.org or call the Team on 01642 616144.