JUNE was dominated by the snap General Election on June 8.

An intense period of campaigning in the lead up to polling day, saw various Conservative big hitters visit the North-East.

Prime Minister Theresa May stopped off in Darlington on a whistle-stop tour of the region while Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond visited the North-East twice.

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Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Karen Bradley, and Brexit Minister David Davis all made appearances.

Visits from the other parties' leading figures were less frequent, but Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper did visit Bishop Auckland MP Helen Goodman and her Labour campaigners in Spennymoor.

As voting day approached, Theresa May's poll rating was plunging, and she refused to take part in a televised leaders' debate.

WHEN the results of the exit poll came in at 10pm, it became clear that Mrs May's election gamble had backfired spectacularly.

The BBC/Sky/ITV poll suggested the UK was heading for a hung parliament, with Conservatives the largest single party in the House of Commons but 12 seats short of the 326 they need for an absolute majority.

And in the North-East, on a night of drama and surprises, the Conservative Party failed to make the inroads they had hoped for in Labour’s North-East heartland, with Jenny Chapman comfortably held Darlington.

l See The Northern Echo next Thursday, Friday and Saturday for Chief Feature Writer Chris Lloyd's in depth look back at the political year.

IN other news, a shopkeeper changed the name of his convenience store from “Singhsbury’s” to “Morrisinghs” after encouragement from customers.

Jel Singh Nagra received a letter from Sainsbury’s threatening legal action because the name on the sign was too similar to its own.

Mr Nagra said: “My family saw the letter and took the sign down while I was away because they were so worried.

“My customers kept saying I should come up with a similar name, so I had to think of something."

Within two hours of posting a picture of the shop’s new sign, “Morrisinghs”, on Facebook, the photo was shared over 10,000 times.

Mr Nagra added: “I have seen people of all ages walking past giggling to themselves.

“It’s all a bit of fun and the customers love it.

“I do feel that the sign is bringing more business in.”

TRIBUTES flooded in for Kieran Maxwell when he lost his brave battle with cancer.

In October 2010 Kieran lost his left leg after being diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare form of cancer.

After beating the disease twice, a chest x-ray during a routine check-up in October 2016 revealed that the teenager’s cancer had returned and spread around his heart and lung.

Sadly, Kieran lost his fight in June of this year, passing away peacefully in his sleep.

Among those paying tribute to him successful UK Paralympian, Stephen Miller, who tweeted: “Very brave young man and gone far too soon – his short life should be an inspiration.”

Kynren returned to Bishop Auckland for its second year, with about 1,500 volunteers taking part in the large-scale outdoor show.

Organisers promised this year would be “bigger, better and brighter” as they prepared to showcase 29 moments in Britain’s history from Celtic leader Queen Boudicca to King Arthur and Henry VIII.

Anne-Isabelle Daulon, chief executive of Eleven Arches, said: “This is the moment that we have all been waiting for since last season’s final performance in September. Since then, our heads have been spinning with ideas and plans to make the second season even more spectacular."

June was the month of the One Love Manchester gig following the Manchester bombing.

Millie Robson and Laura Anderson, made an emotional return to the city for the gig and met their idol ahead of the benefit concert.

Among the performers who joined Ariana Grande were Katy Perry, Robbie Williams, Little Mix, Justin Bieber, Take That, Miley Cyrus, Usher, Pharrell Williams, Black Eyed Peas, Niall Horan and Coldplay.

Marie Robson, Millie’s mother, said: “We were nervous but excited – the girls are amazing and are not going to be beaten.”

THERE was another tragedy that month, when 71 people were killed and many more injured in a London tower block fire.

The 24-storey Grenfell Tower, in North Kensington, was engulfed in flames with thick smoke continuing to rise for hours as firefighters tried to control the blaze.

London Fire Brigade said it had rescued 65 people from the building.

As the country woke up to the horrifying scenes, London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton told the media: “This is an unprecedented incident. In my 29 years of being a firefighter, I have never ever seen anything of this scale.”

Witnesses said the fire spread rapidly and desperate attempts were made by residents to flee the flames.

Theresa May said she was “deeply saddened by the loss of life”.

Thousands of people donated goods to help the people left homeless by the fire, and serious questions emerged about the safety of the tower block.

IN regional news, hundreds of people attended the funeral of much-loved Teesside Troubadour and folk legend Vin Garbutt, who died at the age of 68.

Crowds gathered outside St Mary’s Cathedral in Middlesbrough and the 800-seat building was packed, many being forced to stand as they paid their respects.

Mr Garbutt, born in South Bank, enjoyed a music career that spanned 50 years and won best live act in the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.

In a joint eulogy, the folk singer’s four children, Emma, Time, Katie and Louis said: “Dad was loaned to us filled with love, compassion and passion and now he’s been called back home.

“He was trying to give that message of love to all of you through his music and laughter.

“Did Vin make the world a better place? I think we all know the answer to that,”