THIS week, 15 years ago, a couple broke their engagement celebrations to rescue an elderly woman.

Carl Kennedy and Abi Barker had just broken the news of their wedding plans to Carl's parents, Mick and Kim, and were walking towards a pub to celebrate, when a woman was swept past them down the River Wear, in Durham.

Mr Kennedy, of Stanley, County Durham, said: "I took off my shoes and trousers and plunged in. The water was freezing, but I managed to get the woman's head out of the water.”

Miss Barker, who met Mr Kennedy when the pair were studying creative arts at Manchester Metropolitan University, said: "I knew Carl would not hesitate in going into the water.

"It was certainly an eventful weekend. We are in the process of moving into a new house. We held our engagement party for 200 guests in our local pub, and we were about to have some lunch in Durham when Carl and his dad were diverted.”

The woman, in her 70s, was taken to the University Hospital of North Durham, where she was treated for hypothermia.

Also that week, divers uncovered a "prehistoric Atlantis" along the North-East coast.

Two settlements were discovered off the coast of Tynemouth dating back to the Mesolithic period, about 8,000 years ago. The second was found further out to sea and thought to be over 10,000 years old.

The site, which was discovered accidentally by a team from Newcastle University, had experts in a spin because it was only the second Mesolithic settlement to be discovered in the UK.

David Miles, chief archaeologist at English Heritage, hailed the discovery as "tremendously exciting".

And a charity worker who appealed for unusual items to sell was given a folding caravan as her first challenge.

Marion Cowper, manager of Oxfam in Darlington received the 13ft two-berth caravan from pensioner Ron Swinden.

Mr Swinden, 74, said he bought the caravan in 1985 but stopped using it after a hip replacement operation.

The caravan was restored by Mrs Cowper’s husband, Bob, and it went to auction outside the Hope Inn, in Yarm Road, Darlington where the proceeds went to Oxfam.