FIVE years ago this week, a coach driver was hailed a hero for his quick action when a lorry overturned on the A1.

The coach was carrying 42 Carphone Warehouse employees from London to Newcastle when the collision occurred.

Although the coach driver could not avoid hitting the HGV, passengers said his actions saved lives.

The two drivers had to be cut from their vehicles and eleven involved in the accident suffered minor injuries.

Passenger Laura Dunn, of Thornaby, who suffered bruising, said on Facebook: "I still can't get over how lucky we all were. The driver was so switched on and it's so lucky he managed to keep the coach upright.”

Also that week, former servicemen and women took to the catwalk to thank those who had helped their recovery.

The event was held at Phoenix House Recovery Centre, in Catterick Garrison, which helps injured or traumatised soldiers piece their lives back together.

One of those taking part was Dean Middleton, former corporal in 2nd Battalion Parachute Regiment, from Seaham.

Mr Middleton was posted to Afghanistan in 2010 when his patrol vehicle hit a roadside explosive

He spent four months in a coma suffering damage to his skull and, after having surgery and months of rehabilitation, made a full recovery.

He said: "I feel tip-top, I have always been fit as I was a physical training instructor in the Paras and now I feel back to full fitness. I'm so grateful to Phoenix House for helping me get through this."

Meanwhile, a leisure centre which used the efforts of its members to generate electricity won itself an award.

The Spectrum Leisure Centre, in Willington, County Durham, produced its power from ten pieces of exercise equipment - collectively generating enough energy to power the centre's reception and youth gym lights for four hours.

The centre won the Climate Change category at the County Durham Environmental Awards.

Ian Hirst, chief executive of the centre, said: "This award is recognition of our hard work over the past six years and is a testament to what we want to try to provide for our community.”