WE look back to the week of July 11 to July 17, covering the painful goodbye to a little boy who inspired the nation with his courage and resilience.

Thousands of mourners lined the streets of a County Durham village on Friday, July 15, 2017, to say goodbye to six-year-old Bradley Lowery, the football mascot whose battle with neuroblastoma touched the nation.

Thunderous applause rang out as a white carriage carrying Bradley’s Sunderland-themed coffin, drawn by two white horses, followed by his parents, Gemma and Carl, approached the church.

Balloons were released as onlookers chanted “There’s Only One Bradley Lowery”.

As his coffin was carried into the church, Bradley’s superhero idols Batman, Spider-Man and Captain America, performed a guard of honour.

Then as mourners, including former Black Cats striker Jermain Defoe, who became Bradley’s “best friend”, entered, speakers played Can’t Help Falling in Love by Elvis Presley.

Also that week, on July 13, 2017, the boss of the Student Loans Company (SLC) – which administers university tuition fees and maintenance loans on behalf of the Government – was suspended, pending an investigation.

Shocked staff at the organisation, which employed 1,300 people at offices in Darlington, were called into a series of meetings yesterday and told of Steve Lamey’s suspension.

Mr Lamey joined the SLC in May 2016, having previously held senior positions at HM Revenue & Customs, including chief operations officer and chief executive of its tax credits and child benefits division.

The SLC said that in the meantime it was “confident operations would not be detrimentally affected”.

The 1,300 staff in Darlington process student finance applications and also provide customer service to thousands of students.

The SLC moved into £8.5m offices at Lingfield Point, Darlington, in 2008, having moved staff from Mowden Hall.

It rapidly grew its operation in Darlington, having originally only employed about 150 staff in the town.

A statement said: “The Student Loans Company, in consultation with the Department for Education, took the decision to suspend the chief executive pending an investigation into concerns which have been raised.

“The suspension is a neutral act and does not imply wrongdoing.

As the matters leading to suspension are now subject to an independent investigation it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”

Wet weather failed to dampen the buoyant spirits of show-goers as the Great Yorkshire Show opened in Harrogate on Tuesday, July 12, 2017.

Although rain and grey skies persisted throughout the day, crowds still turned out in force to see livestock judging, fashion shows, food demonstrations and stunning floral arrangements – just a few of the attractions on the first day of the 159th show.

Around 130,000 visitors were expected over the three days of the show.

Nigel Pulling, chief executive of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society, which organises the show, said: “It’s been wetter than we expected, particularly when we had such a warm weather in the previous fortnight but it’s Yorkshire and Britain. It’s something facing farmers all the time, we just have to get on with it.

“The crowd has been in buoyant spirits. They looked forward to the show and seemed determined to have a good time and they did.”

Approximately 8,500 animals were competing in the show for 272 trophies and cups.

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