A MOTHER who had to learn to walk and talk again after being diagnosed with a rare neurological condition has become the latest to put herself in the running to become Labour's candidate in the Tees Valley Mayor election.

Mandy Porter, who has spent her whole life living and working in Darlington, is hoping to be selected as the party's candidate to take on Ben Houchen next May.

She was forced to give up work after being diagnosed with guillain barre syndrome, a rare but serious autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks healthy nerve cells that can eventually lead to paralysis.

After seeking election to be a Darlington councillor for the Bank Top and Lascelles ward earlier this year, Ms Porter is now hoping to make political change across the whole of the Tees Valley.

Speaking to The Northern Echo, she said she had always been "very career focussed" but everything "stopped in its tracks" when she was diagnosed with the condition.

"Everything changed over night really, but it taught me to fight.

"We need people to be a priority, and it is why the condition of the NHS is so important to me, especially the A&E department in Darlington.

"They are vital services and I have been a big user, as so many other people will have been."

Discussing the current mayor, Ms Porter said she hoped Teesside Airport 'flourished' following its return into public ownership, but said it was important to put people first across the region.

"People need to be able to have an excellent lifestyle, be able to progress their careers and have good salaries all here in the Tees Valley.

"I have been able to live and work here all my life but things have changed over the last 20 years.

"We need to have more affordable and accessible transport, and the right modes of transport, and we still have this North South divide when it comes to how much people earn."

She also she would look to engage more with young people and try to get them involved in politics, as Labour tries to learn the lessons from this summer's local elections, when the party lost overall control of all councils across the Tees Valley.

"The Tees Valley is a great place and is close to everything, whether it be beaches or green spaces. We have to look at our high streets and get more affordable housing in them."

Charity leader Jessie Joe Jacobs and engineer Dan Smith have already declared their intention to stand to be Labour's candidate.

The party will make its decision in November.