ATHLETICS hero Steve Cram has joined other Hexham residents in praising the town after it was named Britain’s happiest place to live for the second time in three years.

Cram, who runs his events business Events of the North from the Tyne Valley, said: "Having lived in the Hexham region for well over 17 years now I'm delighted to hear it's retained its status as the Happiest Place to Live in the UK.

"You'll not fail to receive a warm welcome wherever you go in our traditional market town and I’ve enjoyed seeing the growth and development of the area, drawing new people into our happy community. It’s a jewel of the Tyne Valley.”

Billy Atkinson, who runs a fruit and veg stall in the marketplace, said: “Our customers are really nice people.

“The people who are well-to-do are not at all snobbish. The town is clean, tidy and respectable.”

Guy Opperman, MP for Hexham, said: “From our brilliant schools, to our stunning Abbey and excellent farmers’ market – it’s no surprise that Hexham has once again been rated the happiest place to live!

“Our town is a gateway to Hadrian’s Wall and the Northumberland National Park. It’s the perfect mix of town and countryside."