FIVE years ago this week a parachutist had a lucky escape when he landed in a tree after being blown two miles from Peterlee Parachute Centre.

The 21-year-old landed in some conifer trees behind the Methodist Memorial Church and East Durham Funeral Service in Bede Way and after an "extremely difficult" three-hour operation involving dozens of firefighters from across the region, he made it safely back to earth.

Despite his ordeal, he seemed none the worse for his experience and was taken to the Sunderland Royal Hospital for a precautionary check-up.

Peterlee Parachute Centre drop zone controller Paul Moore, who went to the scene to check on the welfare of the man, said: "We are relieved and happy that he wasn't injured."

In other daredevil news, a paragliding enthusiast said he was going to defer to his wife and children's wishes to stay grounded after surviving a serious crash – his third in two years.

Jim Taylor, 45, from Esh Winning, County Durham, was paragliding from Carlton Bank, on the edge of the North York Moors, when he was injured earlier that month.

Mr Taylor had been performing a manoeuvre called scratching a lift at the time – getting as near to the ridge as possible to gain lift.

As he was so close, he then prepared for a slope landing, and took his feet out of his leg pod. But he realised he needed a better air current and pushed away from the ridge.

As he did so, his foot caught on something in the bracken and he broke two bones in his leg.

Stranded about 40 metres down the steep slope, he radioed for help. Members of North Yorkshire Sailwing Club quickly reached the scene and contacted Cleveland Mountain Rescue Team and the Yorkshire Ambulance Service.

He was treated at the scene by a doctor and ambulance paramedic and taken up the slope on a stretcher to a waiting ambulance.

It was Mr Taylor's third serious crash in the past two years. He was involved in two accidents while paragliding in Spain in 2011 and was still receiving treatment for spinal and compression injuries at Middlesbrough's The James Cook University Hospital's neurology department when he was involved in the latest incident.

Mr Taylor said: "My wife, Marrie, has expressed her relief that I will not be paragliding any more, as this is my third serious and potentially fatal incident, in the space of two years."

Meanwhile, First World War letters sent from the trenches of the Western Front to the North-East describing the famous Christmas Day Truce went to auction in London.

The letters were sent by Major John Hawksley, of the Royal Field Artillery, to his sister Muriel at her home near Darlington.

He wrote: "Christmas Day in our immediate front was quite extraordinary. After dark our men and the Germans whose trenches were only 1 to 2 hundred yards apart sang in English Home Sweet Home together.

"Then late on a German shouted to the Warwicks 'We won't fire tomorrow if you don't'. Our men shouted back 'All right'. When it was light on Xmas day, each side showed itself above the trenches.”

Maj Hawksley was killed by a sniper in France in 1916 and is buried at Becourt Military Cemetery.

And a man who dedicated his life to beekeeping was honoured for 80 years of work.

George Brooks, aged 92, began his fascination with bees at the age of ten which led him to become the chairman of beekeeping associations up and down the country.

At an event attended by the chairmen of Richmond and Beverley Beekeeping Associations and the secretary of Yorkshire Beekeeping Association, he was presented with a certificate celebrating his years of beekeeping.

Mr Birks, who kept thousands of bees at any one time said: "Bees are fascinating things, and they are so important. Almost everything we eat is dependent on bees to pollinate the crops.

"If honey bees were to die out, I do not know what would happen to the human population."