LOOKING back to the week that was March 25 to 31, ten years ago...

THERE were smiles and laughter as Darlington couple Ian Bell and Ian Johnstone tied the knot on the first day same-sex marriage became legal in England and Wales, in March 2014.

Mr Bell and Mr Johnstone, who had been together for ten years at the time, were joined by 80 friends and family members for the lunchtime ceremony, at Darlington register office, on Saturday, March 29, 2014.

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The couple became one of the first in the North-East to get married under the new legislation and followed a number of midnight ceremonies for other gay and lesbian couples elsewhere in the country.

Mr Bell, 28, said he and his husband were overwhelmed at the support they had received, adding: "Ten years ago it would never have happened – especially in Darlington, which wasn't the most gay friendly place at the time. Ten years on, it's amazing how people have come together to help us prepare for our wedding and to support gay people in general."

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The pair had planned a civil partnership ceremony for February to mark their anniversary, but were contacted by Darlington superintendent registrar Anthony Hall, who asked if they wanted to be among the first gay couples to get married on March 29.

A kind-hearted policeman stepped in to help replace stolen potted plants lovingly-tended by a pensioner, in March 2014.

PC Tony Young, of Darlington police, admired the way that 86-year-old Jean Kirby invested her time and money in creating attractive floral displays in the street around her residential complex in Darlington.

He noticed that the number of pots had gradually diminished over the years as thieves took them, and he decided to do something to help.

PC Young contacted B&Q, which agreed to provide him with five new planters and sufficient plants to fill them.

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PC Young said: "There were a few tears. She couldn't believe that somebody had thought about her and done that for her."

Stables for seven pit ponies were opened at a County Durham museum during events to celebrate the North-East's mining heritage, in March 2014.

A parade from The Town to The Pit Village marked the occasion, featuring brass bands, miners' banners and a host of people in costume, as well as invited guests and Beamish visitors.