As the Government launches its clampdown on Neighbours From Hell, The Northern Echo has gone in search of Neighbours From Heaven. Chris Webber took a walk down the friendly street that lives up to its name.

IT is not sentiment that makes the people of Friendship Lane friendly. There's a tougher, real neighbourliness to be found on the Headland in Hartlepool.

There's toughness that led John Wallace to brave heat and smoke to pull four children from a flat fire on the street in 1989 when he was only 24.

But there is also a less dramatic, more everyday neighbourliness, the kind that makes Paul Noble ensure the pensioners on the street get their sandwiches at the local pub.

It's also the kind of friendliness that makes a man go round taking out the pensioners' wheelie bins for the refuse collectors. Or there's the woman who watches the children playing snowball fights in case they get hurt. These are the people of Friendship Lane and these are the people who make our communities work across the North-East.

They are people like Liz Hall, landlady of the Fishermen's Arms on South Gate, just by the Friendship Lane flats. But, as Liz soon makes clear, it is a robust friendliness that can withstand a little humour.

"We are friendly people here," glares Liz at her pub regulars, "and anybody who says we aren't will get a bat!"

There's laughter at that, and when one regular says: "It's good here because everybody knows your business, but it's bad here because everybody knows your business."

Talk at the bar turns to the changes in the area which, in the industrial age passed just a few, short years ago, was home to fishermen and dock workers for whom the sea was a workplace.

With the work went much else. Liz, landlady for nearly 18 years, said that the people of Friendship Lane, which was once bombarded by German warships in the First World War, could send their children to two senior schools, could call on their own police station and, when sick, could go to their own hospital. All those community facilities are now gone.

But the people haven't changed, according to Bernard Pearson, 78, former fish quay agent.

"Codheads, that's what they would call us," he laughs. "We, the people of real Hartlepool, were the codheads and the West Hartlepool people were the west dockers. The whole image of the town, the whole town, has changed. But the people here are just the same."

As if to prove his point, inside the pub men play cards and chat at the bar. Stepping outside, someone near St Hilda's Church helps a driver with directions. It's an everyday scene of quiet friendship in Friendship Lane. It's a scene that never seems to change.

* To nominate someone as a Neighbour From Heaven, fill in the form on page 9 of today's Northern Echo, and return it to: Neighbours From Heaven, Newsdesk, The Northern Echo, Priestgate, Darlington, DL1 1NF. Closing date for entries is June 1.

Winner could be cruising towards heavenly voyage

Do you dream of sailing off into the sunset on your perfect cruise? If you are our 2005 Neighbour From Heaven you could be enjoying a dream break for free, courtesy of Going Places and The Cruise Store.

The Northern Echo has teamed up with Britain's brightest holiday company to reward the region's nicest neighbour.

The winner of our competition will receive a cruise holiday (or vouchers for a cruise) to the value of £1,500, courtesy of Going Places' Cruise Store, the one-stop shop for cruising holidays. The person who nominates them will receive £250.

The Cruise Store is a new concession inside all Going Places stores nationwide.

Depending on when you choose to travel, your top prize could buy a fortnight's cruising in the Caribbean aboard the Oceana - the cruise ship that takes ship-borne holidays into a new era.

Oceana has all the facilities and choice of a superliner, while retaining the intimacy and warmth of a smaller vessel. Her open decks offer terraced lidos, shady promenades and quiet nooks for secluded sunbathing.

Just think, your kindness could see you and a partner visiting exotic destinations such as sun-kissed Barbados, Antigua, St Kitts, St Lucia and Venezuela, before returning via Trinidad.

The Cruise Store is a new concept in cruises stores, offering the opportunity to buy in-store, online or via a call centre.

It is the first UK cruise retailer to enable customers to make bookings on the Internet, thanks to advanced technology that brings cruise shopping into the 21st Century.

The system also links each Cruise Store operator directly with the cruise line's reservations system - so, whether you go in store or telephone, you will know instantly if your choice of cruise is available.

* Go into any one of Cruise Store's 650 branded concessions within Going Places stores nationwide, call on 0870 191 3705 or visit, where you can search through hundreds of cruises from all of the UK's top operators - including Carnival, Thomson Cruises and P&O.