FIVE years ago this week, the world paid tribute to former South African president and anti-apartheid freedom fighter Nelson Mandela, who died aged 95.

Mr Mandela passed away after being in a critical condition for several months fighting a series of lung infections.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: "A great light has gone out in our world. Nelson Mandela was a hero of our time.”

Mr Mandela spent 27 years in prison after being found guilty of sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the South African government.

During his imprisonment he became a global figurehead for racial integration and was finally released by President FW de Klerk on February 11, 1990.

On May 10, 1994, he became the first democratically-elected president of South Africa, a post he held until June 1999, when he formally retired from public life.

Also that week, homes and businesses were evacuated, schools closed, trains and ferries cancelled, and major roads disrupted as 113mph winds brought chaos and flooding to the region.

Coastal areas stretching from Scarborough to Tyneside were cordoned off as several councils issued warnings for people to avoid promenades ahead of what was believed to be the biggest tidal surge for 60 years.

In Port Clarence, Stockton, Vikki Watson’s street was still 2ft underwater hours after the high tide.

She said: "Within seconds, there was water coming in the back garden and up the street and then the power went off, so I had to pack bags in the dark - it has been a nightmare.”

Meanwhile, pub landlords attempted to restore festive spirit to the high street after its council-erected tree was named the worst in Britain.

A 20ft white cone in Stockton High Street was ridiculed as the worst Christmas tree in the country by the media and on social networking websites.

Father-and-son landlord team Graham and Craig Harker, who run The George pub, decided to buy their own tree for the town - complete with decorations.

Graham Harker said: "It's been talked about a lot and we were getting sick of the negative comments about our town. To be honest, that triangle thing is abysmal and we thought, let's do something about it."

"I can't see it being a problem, really. That street belongs to all of the people of Stockton and we want a nice tree."

“We are simply putting one up on the High Street for the many visitors who pass by. We hope you all like it, anyway, and Merry Christmas."