FIVE years ago this week, fears an old soldier would go to his grave with his heroism forgotten proved unfounded when hundreds of people from across the country attended the funeral of Fred Leach.

About 100 people stood outside Teesside Crematorium's St Bede's Chapel as the sun set and the Last Post sounded as 94-year-old Mr Leach, of South Bank, Middlesbrough, was laid to rest.

The care home in Eston where Mr Leach lived for the final six years of his life and Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, spread the word of his death so former comrades and family could attend. was recalled.

He was a former Green Howard, who fought in the Second World War.

His coffin, draped with a regimental flag, was carried by former Green Howards and standard bearers led the cortege as at least 200 packed the chapel, many standing.

Reverend Jon Edwards, Minister of South Bank Baptist Church, told the congregation: "He did not die alone. He was part of the Green Howards, a proud regiment that never forgets a comrade in-arms."

Also that week, hundreds of call centre workers faced an uncertain future after Npower, which had recently reported soaring profits and a hike in household bills, announced it was to cut 1,400 jobs and outsource work to India.

The energy company announced it was closing its offices in Thornaby, near Stockton, and two of its three buildings in Peterlee, County Durham.

An airport's long-running court battle that won damages of only £2 resulted in a £2.5m bill for legal costs. Newcastle Airport fought a six-year legal battle to pursue its negligence claim against law firm Eversheds. The Court of Appeal ruled that the law firm had breached its duty of care by not properly explaining the impact of an £8.5m bonus deal for two airport executives, but awarded the airport only £2 in nominal damages after the court decided the failure would not have caused substantial losses.

It has emerged that the lengthy legal challenge cost about £2.5m.

Meanwhile, former Prime Minister Tony Blair visited the North-East for the sixth anniversary of his Sport Foundation. The former MP for Sedgefield was in the region to “reaffirm his personal commitment to get more North-East young people into sport”.

And the people of Darlington awoke to find bollards draped in handmade woollen covers, railings adorned with crochet patterns and knitted bunting, and trees wrapped in cosy woollen jackets.

The statue of railway pioneer Joseph Pease was also adorned with a woolly scarf and superhero cape.

Throughout the weekend, crowds of shoppers and visitors gathered to admire the handiwork of the self-titled Darlington Stitch Bombers.

Beryl Hankin, whose shop, Guru Boutique, was also covered in brightly-coloured knitted flowers by the mystery crafters, said: “It is a really good idea and really makes people smile. A lot of people have been going round town with great big smiles on their faces.”