ON November 15, 2007, former Prime Minister Tony Blair launched his Sports Foundation, with the aim of recruiting coaches and volunteers for grassroots sport.

Primary school pupils from Cleves Cross, in Ferryhill, and Walworth, in Newton Aycliffe, took part in an indoor rowing competition at Newton Aycliffe Leisure Centre for the launch. Eight teams competed and, to great excitement, their progress with every stroke was shown on a large computer screen.

The former Sedgefield MP said: "Children really enjoy sport – it is one of the great myths that they don't. But if they never get the chance, they won't."

Loading article content

The teams were coached by former world champion runner Steve Cram, Brendan Foster, triple world rowing champion Tom Kay, double Olympic rowing champion James Cracknell, Lawn Tennis Association chief executive Roger Draper and international athlete Alison Curbishley.

Ten-year-old Jordan Fucile, from Walworth Primary, who was part of Steve Cram's winning team, said: "It was really good. We had better strength and teamwork, even though our coach was a Sunderland fan."

Elsewhere in the region, 50-year-old Jan Lawson, from Darlington saw her Christmas recipe go nationwide.

She entered her figgy bacon wraps in a Sainsbury's recipe competition on the supermarket's website and her winning recipe – described as a lighter alternative to pigs in blankets – was turned into a Sainsbury's recipe card, and distributed across every store in England and Scotland.

Mrs Lawson, of Southend Avenue, said: "I have been doing figgy bacon wraps for a few years and they have always been popular."

It was Children in Need week, and at Ravensworth School in Normanby, Middlesbrough, school children were sponsored by friends and family for a week of vacuuming, washing-up, gardening and other household tasks.

As a reward, they received a visit from a giant Pudsey Bear, while Asda in South Bank donated a large number of Pudsey Bears.

In financial news, the chief executive of beleaguered bank Northern Rock stepped down.

Adam Applegarth had worked for the bank since 1983 and helped stabilise the business after it was forced to seek emergency funding from the Bank of England.

*Next week: A tragedy at sea as three people drown near Whitby, and we look back on Welsh rockers the Stereophonics playing Newcastle's Metro Radio Arena on November 22, 2007. Were you at the gig? Send your memories to paige.mcdermott@nne.co.uk or georgia.banks@nne.co.uk