DEMAND has far exceeded supply for a one-off North-East civic ball, to be staged on board one of the biggest ships in the Royal Navy fleet.

The Mayor of Durham, Councillor George Wharton, was overwhelmed by requests for tickets after announcing his annual ball was to be held on the hangar of the city's adopted warship, HMS Invincible.

Captain Rory McLean, the ship's commander, offered to host the function as Invincible is making its latest goodwill visit, berthed at the Tyne Commissioners' Quay, at North Shields, next month. It is the last chance to renew affiliations for several years, as the aircraft carrier is scheduled for a major refit.

A delighted Coun Wharton snapped up the offer, ensuring the quick take-up of tickets for the £25-a-head black tie event, the major fund-raising function in his year in office, which is usually staged at Durham Town Hall or at one of the city's sports centres.

Diners on February 3 will be serenaded in the aircraft hangar by a dance band, while the evening will be rounded off with a disco.

Proceeds will boost Coun Wharton's chosen charity, an environmental and conservation project, Chase the Butterfly.

Mayor's secretary, Lin Elder, said: "It certainly seems to have caught people's imagination and all 250 tickets were quickly snapped up."

l The Invincible is open to the public during its stay at North Shields, on February 3 and 4.