A VOLUNTEER coastguard won Hero of the Year in a nationwide competition after saving a teenager when she became trapped on a cliff, ten-years-ago this week.

Paul Waugh, from Skelton, east Cleveland, climbed down the cliff without safety equipment to rescue Faye Harrison, 13, who was left clinging to tufts of grass as the ledge she was standing on gave way.

He was nominated for the award by his wife, Sue, who said: "Paul's the kind of man who is always helping people.

"He and the team have saved everyone, from dog-walkers lost in the fog on the cliffs, to children trapped by the tide."

Meanwhile, players from Darlington Football Club brought joy to a children’s hospital ward with Christmas gifts donated by supporters.

The footballers surprised five-year-old Kian Seery and other young patients with gifts of toys and games at Darlington Memorial Hospital.

Club manager Dave Penney, who visited the hospital with the players, said: "Most of the lads have kids themselves. It's hard for children staying in hospital and it doesn't cost much to help in this way."

And pupils at Skerne Park Primary School, Darlington, won a new play area worth tens of thousands of pounds after coming first in The Northern Echo's Rok Community Challenge competition.

With the help of building experts from Rok, a team of volunteers from the school set about creating a sheltered "quiet zone" in the playground decorated with flowers and plants.

A coat worn by Michael Caine in the North-East-set gangster film Get Carter returned to the region when Wearside businessman Russell Foster successfully bid £2,750 for it at London auction house Christie's.

The black doublebreasted trench coat was one of two made for the 1971 film, one worn by Caine, who played the lead role of Jack Carter, and the other used by his stunt double.

And it was announced that tests were to be carried out on land in and around a wartime RAF chemical weapons depot, which has been sealed off for years.

Mustard gas and other chemicals were used at the site, on the edge of moorland, at Bowes, near Barnard Castle, and it was claimed that when the camp closed in 1946, some of the material was poured into holes in the ground then set on fire, contaminating the ground for many years.

Elsewhere in County Durham, a disgruntled former theme park worker stole a digger and smashed the attraction's gates – then emailed his ex-boss to tell him what he had done.

The 17-year-old went on a rampage at Diggerland, in Langley Park, County Durham, causing thousands of pounds worth of damage before bragging about it on a social networking website.