LOOKING back to the week of June 6 to June 12, 2017, when Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn were battling it out to win votes in the North East.

For the first time in decades, North-East seats were at the heart of the battle to become the next Prime Minister, in June 2017.

As the results were due to roll in on Friday, June 9, 2017, the eyes of the nation will be on Darlington, Bishop Auckland, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, Sedgefield and other Northern constituencies where fierce power struggles were taking place that could transform the political map of the region.

Seats that were traditionally been regarded as Labour strongholds were under siege from the Conservatives, and Ukip hoped to make a breakthrough by securing its first General Election victory.

Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May made final pleas for votes. Mrs May said “whoever you have voted for in the past”, it was time to support the Conservatives in this “unique and crucial election” ahead of the crunch Brexit talks in Brussels.

Warning of “five more years of Tory austerity”, Labour’s leader promised more spending on health and education.

Residents of a quiet cul de sac spoke of their horror after a grandfather died following a “huge explosion” at his home on Sunday, June 11, 2017.

The man – named locally as John Young – suffered extensive burns and was pronounced dead at the scene in what police described as a “tragic accident”.

An investigation got under way into the cause of the blaze which destroyed the roof of the attached garage in Burnopfield, County Durham.

The heat was so intense that distressed neighbours were unable to reach Mr Young.

Neighbours reported hearing a loud bang shortly before the fire broke out in Oakfields, Burnopfield, near Stanley, at 8.40pm on Saturday night.

Paul Cummings, 50, who lives nearby, said: “I was sitting in the conservatory and there was this huge explosion. The windows rattled.

“The couple next door were already out. They said ‘you have to come quickly, something awful has happened’.

There was a really ferocious fire at the back of the house.”

He said it was simply too dangerous to go near and those who rushed to help were forced back.

A mischievous dog with a love of going underground sparked a full-scale rescue operation when he refused to come back to the surface.

Ziggy the Patterdale terrier spent 19 hours in the dark after he disappeared down a drainpipe for a subterranean adventure near Ripon.

The ten-year-old dog’s worried owner Lauren Flintoft, contacted the RSPCA and the fire and rescue service after Ziggy went underground at a farm owned by her in-laws.

He had been had been out on a routine evening walk when he found the pipe and scampered down it.

RSPCA animal collection officer Faebian Vann went to the scene to help with the efforts and used a digger to excavate two holes to try to get to the stricken pooch. Eventually, they dug enough clay and soil out so Ziggy could clamber out of the hole.

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