Explorers, extreme athletes and a cave diver who helped rescue a Thai football team were among those speaking at a festival celebrating adventure, in April 2019.

Durham Adventure Festival welcomed guests including mountaineer Sir Chris Bonington, Olympic rowing champion Helen Glover, and Jason Mallinson, who was part of the team which rescued Thailand’s Wild Boars football team from a cave in 2018.

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The festival, which was hosted by Durham County Council, featured a number of talks and films about adventurous expeditions and feats, as well as a number of activities, including a climbing wall and demonstrations by the 3Sixty bike display team.

Jo Cundall, arts programme manager at the Gala Theatre, Durham, which hosted the festival, said: “Durham Adventure Festival is all about encouraging people to explore the outdoors, try new things and embark on their own adventures.  “The base camp is such a big part of this and we are thrilled to offer even more free films, speakers, activities and goodies the whole family will enjoy this year.”

Schools across the region were facing an “unprecedented” crisis because of a severe shortage of money, The Northern Echo revealed in April 2019.

An Echo investigation uncovered the true extent of the funding crisis facing schools and that a lack of Government funding was leaving many in “desperate” situations, with major concerns about the welfare of pupils and staff. Headteachers across the North-East and North Yorkshire warned that standards were dropping below an acceptable level and cuts were having a “significant impact” on children.

Staff at schools across Darlington, County Durham and North Yorkshire said the focus was on balancing the books rather than providing the best education, with one teacher warning that mass redundancies were inevitable if the situation did not improve, and another said school buildings required major investment to keep them safe.

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Others warned that the best teachers were being snubbed for cheaper, less experienced staff to save cash, and parents were being forced to fundraise for equipment.

A successful entrepreneur signed up to a BBC show 13 years after she was invited to pitch on the programme.

County Durham businesswoman Sara Davies, was announced as BBC Two’s newest ‘dragon’ to star in Dragons’ Den, in April 2019.

Mrs Davies is founder and owner of Crafter’s Companion, a retail business specialising in craft tools.

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She was the youngest ever dragon to step foot in the den at 35-years-old.

She said: “I’m absolutely delighted to join the other dragons for the new series of the show. I’ve always been very passionate about investing time in and sharing my expertise with other entrepreneurs and hopefully I’ll be able to help some of the contestants to really take their businesses to the next level.

“I’ve been a fan of the show since it started, I was even invited to pitch on the show 13 years ago so it feels like I’ve come a full circle. It wasn’t all that long ago when I was in the position of the contestants so I really feel like I will be able to relate to their stories and their journeys so far."