THE future of Darlington Football Club was hanging by a thread on January 31, 2012, as the entrepreneur trying to buy the club and the outgoing chairman struggled to reach agreement.

Venture capitalist Paul Wildes admitted that talks with former club chairman and principal creditor Raj Singh had broken down. However, The Northern Echo understood that "protracted negotiations" later resumed between the pair.

The breakdown left Mr Wildes looking at a "plan B" which would have involved him buying the club without reaching a settlement with the non-footballing creditors, including Mr Singh. This, though, would have breached league rules, meaning Darlington would be relegated at least one division at the start of next season as a penalty.

A mother issued a heartfelt rallying cry to retain threatened services at one of the region's hospitals, on February 1, 2012, saying it has saved her family "countless times".

Mother-of-three Heather Woods has two sons – Steven, 12, and ten-year-old Johnny – who both suffer from the blood disorder haemophilia A.

The condition means an increased risk of prolonged bleeding after falls and from cuts, as well as internal injuries.

Both boys needed injections every other day and in their younger years, before they could be treated at home, were frequently taken to the Friarage Hospital, in Northallerton, not far from the family home.

Paediatric services at the hospital may be downgraded, leading to fewer specialist doctors, after a National Clinical Advisory Team (NCAT) report labelled its current level unsustainable and called for it to be switched to outpatient only.

The proposal – and the knock-on effect it would have on maternity services – sparked a wave of protest across the hospital's catchment area.

Finally, a girl born without kidneys had her final major operation and was looking forward to celebrating her birthday, as reported in February 2012.

Alice Skinner, from Hartlepool, was Britain's youngest patient to go on dialysis at the age of six months, and her condition affects one baby in a million in the UK.

She was born with stumps for kidneys after they failed to develop in the womb and her body slowly poisoned itself. But after 27 operations, she had her final procedure after three years of dialysis.

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