• Firefighters may be sacked for ending rope rescues

    A team of firefighters face the sack after they refused to continue with a life-saving service. The rope rescue team based at Peterlee Fire Station, in County Durham, has stopped responding to incidents requiring rescues from places such as high-rise

  • Boro's bid for Trotters' striker Ricketts pays off

    MIDDLESBROUGH last night raced against the clock to finalise a £3.5m deal to bring England striker Michael Ricketts to the Riverside. The Bolton Wanderers frontman agreed personal terms with Boro 30 minutes before the midnight transfer deadline. Ricketts

  • At Your Service: Fools gold

    A STRANGER is amidst our congregations, announcing his presence only by a visiting card dropped "discreetly" into the collection plate. "You have been visited by the Mystery Worshipper," says the card, though whether the Mystery Worshipper also drops

  • 'We can win title race,' says £9m Woodgate

    JONATHAN WOODGATE last night wrapped up his £9m move to Newcastle and declared: "We can win the title this season.'' The England centre-back was also quick to defend his reputation in the wake of his December 2001 conviction for affray following an attack

  • Chance for cricketers to aid Africans

    NORTH-EAST cricketers are being urged to donate unwanted equipment to help poor African youngsters. Durham University's Combined Colleges cricket squad visited the mountain kingdom of Lesotho during a three-week visit to southern Africa. While in Lesotho

  • Building up fitness for race

    Organisers of this year's Redcar Half Marathon are encouraging runners to step up their training in readiness for the run. This year's event was officially launched by first-time sponsors Somerfield Supermarket, in West Dyke Road, Redcar. Store staff

  • Historg to give Murphy repeat victory

    FERDY MURPHY is on course to land the Singer & Friedlander National Trial for the second year in succession courtesy of Historg (1.50) at Uttoxeter this afternoon. Twelve months ago Streamstown stormed to victory in the £80,000 race and if anything

  • Why I'm no longer seeing stars

    There was a time when the presence of a top star could guarantee a movie's success - but not any longer. Film writer Steve Pratt says it is now marketing, not talent, that sells tickets. ARNOLD Schwarzenegger used to be able to do it. The two Toms, Cruise

  • Walkers' cash aids band's CD ambition

    ONE of the region's top brass bands is to record a CD to help it pay for expensive running costs. Fishburn Band, one of only three North-East bands in the national premier division, is planning to cut a disc to celebrate its 50th anniversary this year

  • 'Sweep entire village' plea in DNA hunt for Millie's killer

    PEOPLE in the village where police uncovered a DNA link to murdered schoolgirl Millie Dowler are living in fear of a "killer in our midst". A male DNA sample taken from an item of Millie's clothing has been matched to one found after a theft at a church

  • Morrisons boss appeals to Safeway shareholders

    SIR Ken Morrison has appealed to Safeway shareholders to get on board with his supermarket group's £2.4bn offer. The executive chairman of Morrisons wants to draw a conclusion to the bidding war he sparked last month with a pre-emptive strike to buy its

  • Four answer 'laundering' allegations

    A NUMBER of people have appeared in court accused of money laundering. Christopher Grimes, 24, of Bousfield Crescent, Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, is accused of two counts totalling more than £580,000. His case at Darlington Magistrates' Court was

  • Pensioner jailed for sex abuse

    A PENSIONER was ordered to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life yesterday as he was jailed for three years for sexually abusing a six-year-old girl in his home. During his trial, Thomas Meldrew Horseman, 68, denied the offence and several

  • Fears grow for missing man

    FEARS are growing for a man missing from his home since yesterday morning. Martin Young was depressed when he was last seen by his family at 4.30am. Described as stocky, about 5ft 8in, with blue eyes, a moustache and black, receding hair, he has BCFC

  • Killer driver locked away for 11-and-a-half years

    A death crash driver was jailed for 11-and-a-half years yesterday. Ian Carr, 27, killed six-year-old Rebecca Sawyer and left her 18-month-old sister, Kirsty, fighting for life when he smashed a stolen Vauxhall Astra into their family car. The tragic death

  • Homeless man may have frozen to death

    POLICE were carrying out tests last night on a man's body found in Darlington town centre - to find out whether he had frozen to death. The 53-year-old was found behind Wilkinson's department store, in East Street. It was discovered by a shopper at about

  • Footballers caught short to be carded

    FOOTBALLERS playing in one of the region's amateur leagues face instant bookings if they are caught urinating beside the pitch. Referees in York have been told to clamp down on the problem following complaints from residents living near grounds. Players

  • Fire teams test skills in tunnel simulator

    FIREFIGHTERS from the region have been getting first-hand experience of how to deal with a possible fire in the Tyne Tunnel. Teams from Cleveland and Durham brigades were at the Darchem Flare Facility, at Darchem Engineering, in Stillington, Teesside,

  • North experts chart seal's epic voyage

    AN elephant seal - named Blob by scientists - swam more than 4,500 miles to sow his wild oats, according to the North-East-based researchers. Blob's dedication to passing on his genes to future generations saw him leave the South Pacific island of Macquarie

  • Spring recruitment drive for planning officers

    A SCHEME to attract more people from minority ethnic groups into the planning profession in the North-East has been launched. Recruitment for the traineeships starts in the spring with the first candidates in place by the autumn. As well as a postgraduate

  • News in brief: Nightclub arsonist hunt

    Police are searching for a man who started two fires at nightspots in a North-East resort. Both incidents happened on Friday, January 17. At 9.45pm, in the men's toilets of the Havanna pub in South Parade, Whitley Bay, a plastic toilet roll holder was

  • Ballet date

    Award-winning British choreographer Matthew Bourne's production of Nutcracker! will be performed at Newcastle's Theatre Royal, from February 18 to 22. Tickets for the acclaimed adaptation are available from the box office, on 0870-905 5060.

  • Pupils as young as five don't get home until 1am

    CHILDREN as young as five found themselves on a nine-hour school bus journey as snowstorms paralysed North-East roads. Pupils from Yarm School and Teesside High School, at nearby Eaglescliffe, near Stockton, were picked up as normal at 4pm on Thursday

  • Auditor's warning over cost of theatre

    A THEATRE has generated "significant" costs since a council took over its running, an auditor has found. A report by the District Auditor into Durham City Council highlighted the costs of running the year-old Gala Theatre. The council originally appointed

  • Town gets share of £285,000

    COMMUNITY groups are to share £285,000 in Government cash, Home Office Minister Beverly Hughes announced yesterday. Middlesbrough Council and voluntary organisations will receive the money for schemes to help transform the town. Ms Hughes said: "We know

  • Head-to-head over the euro

    CAMPAIGNERS lobbying for Britain to keep the pound came head-to-head with the euro's supporters yesterday. Businessmen heard both sides of the argument when Durham Business Club hosted a debate on the euro in Chester-le-Street. Campaign groups Business

  • Falcons banking on big occasion atmosphere

    IT'S A big day for Newcastle Falcons as they officially open their West Stand before the first of what Rob Andrew has described as "eight cup finals." They face Harlequins in front of the Sky TV cameras today (2pm) knowing that defeat will leave them

  • Wall aims to close out rivals at Blaydon

    DURHAM City baker Terry Wall, who led Morpeth Harriers to team silver medal position in last week's North of England Cross Country Championships, will be aiming to maintain his pole position in tomorrow's fourth Durham Pine North-East Harrier League fixture

  • In The Picture: Terms of endearment

    It's been a busy time for former Rovers Return landlady Denise Welch since quitting the soap. Apart from acting and presenting, she's now started her own production company. DENISE Welch was having a busy day, coping with problems thrown up by "a two-year-old

  • Health warnings are issued after rise in mumps cases

    EXPERTS have issued a health warning after a rise in cases of mumps. Public health officials from Tyneside to North Yorkshire have seen a steady rise in cases of the infection in recent months. Now, GPs on Teesside are on alert after four cases were confirmed

  • Newell digs in to keep Pool on points trail

    HARTLEPOOL boss Mike Newell is so desperate to see this afternoon's game beat the freeze he joined in yesterday's clear-up operation. The Victoria Park surface was covered in six inches of snow yesterday morning, but a day of hard work has increased the

  • Textile project heads for Space

    US space agency Nasa has enlisted a County Durham firm's ground-breaking technology to enable it to control a moon buggy at the touch of a textile button. A joint venture between Darlington's Peratech and Ronz Eurolab, of West Yorkshire, created an electronic

  • Housing support for old seafarers

    THE region's oldest housing association, for ex-miners, has spread its wings and is looking after old sailors. The Durham Aged Mineworkers' Homes Association (DAHMA), set up more than 100 years ago, has moved north of the Tyne to take over 30 homes in

  • Farmers can sniff success

    FARMERS from all over the North will converge on a dales village tomorrow to sniff bales of hay. They will be competing for more than £400 in prize money at the 11th annual hay show to be held at the Cross Keys pub at Eastgate, in Weardale, County Durham

  • Man, 79, 'lucky' to escape blaze

    A PENSIONER is lucky to be alive after a blaze broke out in his home, say firefighters. William Blackford, 79, was asleep at his home in Marlborough, Seaham, east Durham, when he was woken by his smoke alarm going off in the early hours of yesterday.

  • Sunderland chief insists he has right men for job

    UNDER-FIRE chairman Bob Murray last night hailed Howard Wilkinson and Steve Cotterill as the right men to take Sunderland out of their crisis. The Black Cats are staring down the barrel of relegation after just two League wins since the managerial team

  • For Your Benefit: Is there any help for young?

    Q I read your column each week and am amazed at the handouts people get. My granddaughter lives on her own, paying a mortgage and finds it very difficult to manage. Is there no help for her? A The benefit system is more generous to the elderly and disabled

  • Friends' grief for crash boy Roly

    FAMILY and friends gathered to pay an emotional tribute to a 13-year-old boy yesterday. Liam Richardson, known affectionately as Roly, died two weeks ago when the stolen car he was in with three other teenagers careered out of control and crashed into

  • Village lies back and thinks of England

    A QUIET North-East village is preparing for its 15 minutes of football fame. Residents of Hurworth, near Darlington, are bracing themselves for the full glare of the media spotlight in June, when England's Euro 2004 bandwagon rolls into the region. Although

  • Ryanair snaps up Buzz and buys more planes

    RYANAIR laid down the gauntlet to its budget airline competitors by snapping up rival Buzz in a £15m deal. The Irish carrier, which operates out of Teesside and Newcastle airports, further stamped its intentions on a congested marketplace by announcing

  • Have your say on open land initiative

    A PROVISIONAL map outlining land in the region which the Government plans to open up to walkers in its "rights to roam" law will be on display in March. As part of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, which became law in January last year, farmers

  • Celebrations mark Chinese new year

    REVELLERS are gearing up for colourful celebrations to mark the Chinese New Year. Newcastle's Chinatown district will see firecrackers and dances to herald the Year of the Ram. For the first time this year, there will be three Chinese animals taking part

  • Staff foil PO raid

    Staff foiled a raid at a North-East post office. Three men in balaclavas and dark clothing burst into the post office in Front Street, Hetton-le-Hole, Wearside, on Thursday at 5.30pm. When one smashed the counter glass with a baseball bat, staff raised

  • Non-league round-up: Chairman warns against hasty call-offs

    Northern League chairman Mike Amos has warned clubs not to be too hasty in calling games off. Speaking before the current bad weather swept the region on Thursday, Amos says that some games have been postponed by clubs without using the correct procedure

  • Disney still confident despite drop in profits

    CHILDREN'S favourite Walt Disney will be hoping its latest cinematic venture, a sequel to the hit animation The Jungle Book, will help its business get back on track. The US entertainments firm watched profits fall 42 per cent in the first quarter despite

  • Iraq war 'in weeks - not months'

    Action against Iraq will be in weeks not months, George Bush said last night. After meeting Prime Minister Tony Blair, the US President said they were both agreed on the matter. Earlier, Mr Bush said he backed the use of nuclear missiles in retaliation

  • Pledges of support after hospice funding blow

    BOSSES at the North-East's first baby hospice have been inundated with public support in the wake of a major setback. Plans to open the Zoe's Place Hospice for Special Babies, on Teesside, were thrown into confusion when a bid for £501,000 of National

  • Scariest day as a driver in 26 years

    Northern Echo reporter Chris Brayshay needed true grit as he faced a nightmare journey home in the blizzards battering Teesside on Thurdsay. After clocking off for the eveining, he joined the thousands of drivers struggling home. This is what happened

  • Boyfriend 'fell holding baby'

    THE boyfriend of a teenage mother who is charged with her of causing multiple fractures to her baby, told a court yesterday that they would never deliberately hurt him. But Andrew Spence, 24, told Teesside Crown Court that he fell down the stairs at their

  • Comment: No place for secrecy

    THE spate of scandals which has tarnished the health service in recent years has seriously undermined public confidence in whether the voice of the patient is truly heard. The likes of Alderhay, Bristol, Harold Shipman and - much closer to home, the Richard

  • Boro wanted game off, storms Robson

    ANGRY Sir Bobby Robson last night accused Middlesbrough of wanting today's Riverside derby to be postponed, writes Clive Hetherington. Newcastle's visit was called off yesterday on safety grounds after an 11.15am inspection of the terraces and stadium

  • Poor health forces headteacher to retire early

    THE headteacher at one of the region's top private schools has taken early retirement because of ill health. Helen Hamilton has been at all-girls Polam Hall School, in Darlington, for 20 years and has been headteacher for the past 16. Parents were told

  • Leaving the snow behind

    EIGHTY Army vehicles set off on the first leg of their journey to the Gulf yesterday in preparation for any war against Iraq. Land Rovers and four-tonne trucks carrying specialist communications equipment left from Worsley Barracks, in York, and headed

  • Wilkinson claims he's not envious

    SUNDERLAND manager Howard Wilkinson last night insisted he isn't envious of rivals Newcastle United following their £9m swoop for Jonathan Woodgate. While England centre-back Woodgate yesterday completed his move to Tyneside from Leeds, former Elland

  • But I know Tony is an honourable man. . .

    GULLIBLE, nave and a poor judge of character: I may be all those things, but in the ten years since I first met Tony Blair I have always believed that he is a decent, honest and trustworthy human being. Admirable, even. You may scoff, but in person he

  • Weekend off for Quakers

    DARLINGTON must rearrange yet another fixture after this afternoon's Third Division clash with Cambridge was called off due to a frozen Feethams pitch. The surface was yesterday deemed unplayable after an early-morning pitch inspection, although caretaker