THE heart-warming spirit of a village community thawed the ice and snow that left two nine-tonne buses stricken on a steep bank.

Severe winter weather caused “chaos” for motorists taking to untreated roads, with passengers on public transport also facing lengthy delays.

Drivers operating a pair of Arriva North East buses were forced to abandon attempts to scale a bank in Hurworth, near Darlington, with dozens of other drivers also getting stuck on the stretch.

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The rear-wheel drive buses – which are automatic – were at risk of fishtailing without any grip on the ice.

However, residents were determined to offer a helping hand – or shovel – to get traffic moving along Hurworth Road in a “great community effort” being praised by the bus operator’s staff.

Arriva Darlington’s general manager, Sophie Moorby, said: “I was reading The Northern Echo and saw the picture of the chaos caused in Hurworth because of all the adverse weather.

“The bank in Hurworth was just impassable, I don’t know whether it had been gritted or not, but even if it had, grit doesn’t work below a certain temperature at around freezing.

“The buses were stuck in a queue on the bank like everyone else so we sent our town centre supervisor, Paul Warnes, to help get them moving again.

“It wasn’t easy for Paul to get there either, but when did, he said that the atmosphere in Hurworth just made a difficult situation so much easier to deal with.

“Everyone was really generous and everyone was out helping each other – one man gave Paul a shovel to get the buses out and without that I’m sure it would have taken a lot longer to get everyone moving again.”

The snowy scene was captured on camera as the buses, cars and vans attempted to manoeuvre up and down the steep bank.

Ms Moorby added: “When the buses got going again there was a big cheer from all the people there and it was just a really great community effort and a proper community spirit to help each other out.

“Paul said it made a massive difference and he told us how everyone had been sharing shovels and pushing vehicles to get them moving – so we’d like to thank everyone for all of their help.”