COMMUNITIES across the North-East and North Yorkshire were full of flipping fun five years ago this week, as pancake races and traditional events took place.

In Bedale, Reverend Ian Robinson challenged hundreds of children from local schools in an annual pancake race.

Organiser Peter Parlour said: "It was a marvellous event. Sadly, the rector was just outrun, but he did a good job picking up over-flipped pancakes from the pathway."

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And in Sedgefield residents got involved in the annual Shrove Tuesday Ball Game.

Following tradition, 71-year-old Angela Bannister, who has lived in Sedgefield all her life, got to open the game at 1pm by passing the ball through the bull ring on the town green three times.

Mrs Bannister said: "It was fantastic. I have been chasing the ball since I was a little girl and it is a great honour to start the game."

Four-year-old Ethan Frampton, from Trimdon, could not stop smiling when he got a turn, and at 4.30pm 28-year-old Stephen Flockett battled his way to victory.

Mr Flockett, who dedicated his win to his 16-month son Zachary, said: "I feel ecstatic. I have always wanted to win but I never thought I would.

A loan shark who lent money to people at interest rates of up to 14,000 per cent was ordered to pay back more than £100,000.

A judge at Teesside Crown Court declared that Paul Brown, who ran a large-scale illegal money-lending operation, had benefited from his criminal activities by £104,000.

Canadian-born Brown was jailed for 18 months in 2011 after admitting nine specimen charges of illegal money lending between 2001 and 2009.

Brown, 54, of Byland Close, St Helen Auckland, County Durham, was also involved in an illegal cigarette and counterfeit goods racket and was known to locals as Canadian Paul or The Money Man.

In international news, Olympic and Paralympic star Oscar Pistorius was arrested on suspicion of murdering his girlfriend after she was shot dead at his home.

Gold-medal winner Pistorius, known as Blade Runner for his prosthetic racing legs, was taken into custody over the killing of 30-year-old Reeva Steenkamp.

Initial reports suggested the model may have been mistaken for a burglar, but Brigadier Denise Beukes later said police were "very surprised" by that suggestion, adding: "These allegations did not come from us."

Back in the North-East, a nine-year-old girl was lucky not to suffer serious injury after she was thrown from her sofa when a stolen car ploughed into her living room.

Charlotte Jacob was playing a video game on her sofa at about 7.20pm when a red Land Rover Freelander crashed into the semi-detached house in Ingoldsby Road, Netherfields, Middlesbrough.

The vehicle smashed through a window and into the room, shunting the sofa and pushing it through the room.

The youngster, who was thrown to the floor, was fortunate to escape without injury, but was treated for shock at the scene.

And coffee-lovers were shocked to find a horse nursing a cappuccino in their favourite hang-out.

Mr P, a 28in high Ultra American Miniature Horse, was shopping in Yarm High Street with his owner, Katy Smith, before stopping at coffee@elliots cafe.

Ms Smith takes Mr P to old people's homes, schools and parties but also takes him out and about shopping.

She said: "In the florist's, a gentleman just couldn't believe his eyes when he saw a horse in there. It totally threw him. But it's all positive – people love to see Mr P. "