THIS week, 15 years ago, staff at Rycroft Mercedes Benz, in Stockton raised money for charity jamming themselves into one of the world's smallest cars.

The team of 17, were not exactly sitting comfortably in the Smart car but their feat raised £1,000 for Children in Need.

The official record for the number of people in a Smart car was 16, the accolade was held by the Chinese state circus.

Bob Olone, Smart manager at the garage, said: "We are pleased we managed to fit 17 people into the car, but the record was unofficial.

"However, we know we did it and we have managed to raise £1,000 for Children in Need in the process."

The red Smart car was custom designed for the event and decorated with Pudsey paw prints.

Meanwhile, thousands of people across the region remembered fallen soldiers by pausing to observe the Armistice Day silence.

The two-minute silence at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month marks the moment the guns fell silent at the end of the First World War in 1918.

One of the most poignant ceremonies came at Wolsingham School and Community College in Weardale, County Durham, where 58 former pupils perished during both world wars.

Students and staff planted an oak sapling in memory of the latest former pupil to fall, Colin Wall.

The 34-year-old company Sergeant Major, of Middleton One Row, near Darlington, died after being ambushed in the Iraqi city of Basra.

His parents, Barry and Joan, of Crook, were touched by the tribute to their only son, who was a father-of-three.

Also, that week, cook Maureen Deans was named the best school chef in the region

Ms Deans, 53, who prepared meals at St Joseph's RC Primary School, Jarrow, South Tyneside, won the Local Authorities School Chef of the Year award for the North-East and Scotland.

She impressed the judges, led by chef Eugene McCoy of the Cleveland Tontine restaurant on the A19 in North Yorkshire, with her spicy chicken with Mediterranean roast vegetables, followed by chocolate orange duet.

Her two-course meal, prepared on a budget of 80p, defeated competition from five other cooks, including Margaret Campbell, from Oakley Cross Primary School, West Auckland, County Durham, and Alison Crossan, of Harewood Junior School, Stockton, Teesside.

Ms Deans said: "A lot of people don't realise how good the standard of school meals is now.

"Gone are the days of lumpy custard and lumpy mashed potatoes."