THIS WEEK, 15 years ago, winter had kept its grip on the North-East as thick clouds of sea foam covered the coast of Whitby.

Weather experts were baffled by the phenomenon, at first thinking there may have been a chemical leak to explain the foot-deep foam.

But their fears were dismissed by harbour staff, who said it was caused by salt spray being whipped up by the motion of the waves.

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One resident said: "We are a foot deep in the stuff. It's amazing. We've never seen anything like it. The foam has blown into the town and the streets are full."

Meanwhile, children as young as five found themselves stuck on a nine-hour bus journey home from school due to severe snow storms.

Pupils from Yarm School and Teesside High School, at nearby Eaglescliffe, near Stockton, were picked up as normal at 4pm for the journey that usually takes 40 minutes.

However, it wasn’t until 1am when the last child was dropped off in Hartlepool because of crawling traffic along the A19.

The pupils were praised for remaining calm and given the following day off while two drivers were praised for their dedication to drop off all 80 children.

The younger pupils were tucked up at the front of the coaches to sleep and games were arranged for the older ones to play at the back of the bus.

"It was frightening but we tried to stay positive so as not to upset the young children, some of whom were just five or six," said Teesside High pupil Ruth Craig, 15.

Finally, Firthmoor Primary School celebrated the opening of its new building co-designed by its pupils.

The £2m building was the first school to be built by Darlington Borough Council after it became a unitary authority.

The new classrooms came with an interactive whiteboard, at least one personal computer and brightly coloured chairs which denoted whether pupils were in Key Stage one or two.

The children, who contributed ideas for the school's design, were delighted with the result.

"It's beautiful," said eight-year-old Sadie Weir. "It has got nice toilets and nice chairs, and nice tables and classrooms."

"It is a dream come true," said Charmaine Hughes, also aged eight. "We wanted a new school and asked for one and we've got one. It is brilliant."