TEN years ago, this week, families across the North-East faced an uncertain Christmas as a vital community savings scheme became the latest victim of the credit crunch.

It was thought up to 1,000 of the poorest people hoping to make withdrawals from the South West Durham Credit Union (SWDCU), received letters setting out the Financial Services Authority’s (FSA) decision to restrict the union’s activities.

Deposits were protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, but pay-outs before Christmas were unlikely.

An FSA spokesman said: “The order was made a week ago to make sure (SWDCU) cannot get into further difficulties.

“They cannot make any new loans or take any new deposits. The only thing they can do is receive payments.

“The consequence is that, for a time, it has been frozen, and people cannot get their money out – but it doesn’t mean they lose the money.”

One volunteer, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “We’ve just become another victim of the credit crunch.

“If the banks can get themselves into difficulties, then obviously so can we. The question is will the Government bail us out?”

Also, that week, tributes were paid to a North-East soldier who died weeks after becoming a father.

Lance Corporal David Wilson, from Spennymoor, County Durham celebrated the birth of his daughter Poppy alongside his fiancée, Michelle Curry, shortly before leaving for Iraq.

Colleagues at the Army’s base in Basra found L CplWilson dying from a gunshot wound to the head.

His family said in a statement: “David was a loving and devoted family man who was the light of Michelle’s life.

“The recent gift of their beautiful baby daughter had made his world complete.

“The family are extremely proud of him and our world will be a much sadder place without him.”

At the time, a County Durham website for schoolchildren celebrated winning a BAFTA award.

The artisancam.org.uk website won the honour in the EA British Academy Children’s Awards after being nominated twice previously.

Keith Alexander, director of Artists at work Limited, the Barnard Castle company behind the website, said it was completely overwhelming and a huge achievement just to be nominated for the Bafta.