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  1. Got any budding astronauts or astrologers in the family? Well they could be soon seeing stars quite literally as Cramlington is getting its own planetarium...for two days only. Manor Walks shopping centre is inviting children to turn into space explorers this May half term by taking part in a range of intergalactic free, family fun for all ages. During the school holiday children can embark on a space adventure in centre mall between 10am until 3pm with themed arts and crafts activities, face painting, and a special tour of the galaxy. The activities begin on Monday, May 28 when families can get creative for the Bank Holiday with space themed craft and colouring in activities. Then from May 29 - 31 children can enjoy going on a journey through the galaxy and learn about space in Manor Walks’ very own Planetarium. Little explorers will also have the chance to dress up as astronauts and experience outer space with virtual reality headsets in this immersive multi-media theatre experience. On Saturday, June 2 and Sunday, June 3 the largest UK Independent Star Wars costuming group, the 99th Garrison, will be in centre from 10am until 3pm in celebration of a galaxy far, far away. Star Wars fans, both young and old, can come along to Manor Walks to see some of film franchise’s iconic characters and have their photographs taken with them.
  2. It made its debut back in the spring of 2011 and on Tuesday, Geordie Shore will kick off its seventeenth series. And MTV have rung the chances for the new series of its most watched show. The likes of Gaz Beadle, Vicky Pattison, James Tindale and Charlotte Crosby all hit our screens in the shoe’s first ever episode back in 2011 and while none of them are still in the fold, fellow original Sophie Kaseai is, as is Holly Hagan who make a shock return for the new run. And she’s not the only arrival, there are SIX new cast members, two of them local lads. But who are they? The 20-year-old from Cramlington is a street promo manager for Newcastle based Jaluminati, who run nights at the likes of Perdu, House of Smith and Tiget Tiger. He says that in the Toon there is ‘neewhere to hide’ as everyone knows who he is.
  3. Eight years after it made its much talked about debut on MTV, Geordie Shore is back for its SEVENTEENTH series on Tuesday night and just like with many series gone by, there’s a host of new faces in the cast. The likes of Gaz Beadle, Vicky Pattison, James Tindale and Charlotte Crosby all hit our screens in the shoe’s first ever episode back in 2011 and while none of them are still in the fold, fellow original Sophie Kaseai is, as is Holly Hagan who make a shock return for the new run. She is a cast member who is no stranger to viewers of the long-running programme but there are a few newcomers who won’t be so familiar... Who are the new people on Geordie Shore? Grant Molloy The 20-year-old from Cramlington is a street promo manager and says that in Newcastle there is ‘neewhere to hide’ as everyone knows who he is.
  4. He went into the show as Marnie Simpson’s ex but it’s Kyle Walker’s own childhood sweetheart who causes some drama in the final episode of Ex on the Beach. Kyle, who owns Airbox Bounce in Cramlington, has been getting close to fellow single Katie on the brutal MTV dating show but when ex girlfriend Emily comes out of the water, things turn on their head. Kyle admits the 22 year old Geordie brunette knows him “better than anyone,” while she tells the camera “he was my first true love.” And she’s on a mission to get him back, adding “One day he text me to say ‘I think we’re over’ and I was heartbroken. “As much as I hate Kyle he is still the love of me life and I’ve never loved anyone like I’ve loved him. “I do hope he feels the same.”
  5. A woman has been taken to hospital after suffering a medical episode while driving on the A19. Police say the woman veered into the central reservation on the northbound carriageway just past the Silverlink Roundabout on Sunday afternoon. The woman, who is said to be in her 40s, was taken to the Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital in Cramlington but her injuries are not thought to be life-threatening. A spokesman for Northumbria Police said: “Due to a medical incident, she crossed from one lane to another into the cones at the central reservation where the roadworks are at Silverlink. “We were initially informed by a caller that a vehicle had overturned but on arrival, this was not the case.” The ambulance service requested the assistance of Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service as it was thought someone was trapped inside a vehicle but they were not needed.
  6. It’s shaping up to be a hot summer – on the food festival front at least. If you like your food and drink served with a healthy dollop of local pride, passion and ingenuity, then you are going to be spoilt for choice over the coming months. With weekend-long gourmet galas in picturesque North East locations and towns, farmers’ markets, street food events and pop-up dining evenings to choose from, even picky gourmands should be well catered for. The North East used to be regarded as a good food backwater. But hardly a week seems to go by now without some tasty culinary extravaganza taking place. From the Tweed to the Tees and all places in between, the regional foodie calendar is packed between spring and autumn with flavoursome outings championing the very best regional produce.
  7. It’s shaping up to be a hot summer – on the food festival front at least. If you like your food and drink served with a healthy dollop of local pride, passion and ingenuity, then you are going to be spoilt for choice over the coming months. With weekend-long gourmet galas in picturesque North East locations and towns, farmers’ markets, street food events and pop-up dining evenings to choose from, even picky gourmands should be well catered for. The North East used to be regarded as a good food backwater. But hardly a week seems to go by now without some tasty culinary extravaganza taking place. From the Tweed to the Tees and all places in between, the regional foodie calendar is packed between spring and autumn with flavoursome outings championing the very best regional produce.
  8. Promise of some decent weather over the May Bank Holiday weekend is all it takes to get everyone scampering outdoors. And, further encouragement to make the most of an extra day, is the fact that May is National Walking Month. Some visitor attractions are encouraging visitors will ideas for a special walk for the month with Cragside in Northumberland, for instance, suggesting a "short but challenging" excursion taking advantage of its spring flowers. Visitors can enjoy the likes of bright yellow azaleas, which are filling the air with scent, ahead of the appearance of Cragside's famous rhododendrons. Across the region, meanwhile, families are being encouraged to take a stroll along one of the Active Sunderland heritage trails and there are maps available to ensure walkers don't miss out on iconic landmarks and places of interest to see along the way. But throughout the region, we have some stunning locations whose scenery is enough to lure out the most dedicated couch potato.
  9. Watch this Uber driver’s dangerous three-point turn on an A189 slip road. The black Audi blocked the blind bend off the junction at Cramlington, where traffic often comes off at high speeds. Driving instructor Andy Livingston, 52, from Cramlington, was teaching a student at the time. He caught the incident on his dashcam on May 2. Andy said the driver put up a hand by way of apology before shooting off again. The instructor said: “The student who was driving wasn’t a novice. He had dropped his speed before we came off onto the slip road.
  10. A 76-year-old woman involved in a crash on the Spine Road near Cramlington has died two days after the collision. The elderly woman was taken to hospital in a critical condition after two cars collided on the A189 on Monday morning. Police said the woman died of her injuries in hospital on Wednesday. It is believed two vehicles – a silver Skoda and a black Kia – were involved in the collision, adding that a third vehicle had broken down ahead of the crash scene. The critically-injured passenger was accompanied to hospital by an air ambulance doctor in an ambulance while one driver was taken to hospital with minor injuries. Another driver was treated by paramedics at the scene.
  11. An elderly woman remains in a critical condition after two cars collided on the A189 Spine Road near Cramlington on Monday morning. Detectives are appealing for witnesses and dashcam footage of the crash that left a 76-year-old woman with life-threatening injuries, and police have released more details about the incident. The collision happened at about 9.29am on Monday, April 30, on the southbound A189, prior to the junction for the B1326. “It is believed that two vehicles – a silver Skoda and a black Kia – were involved in the collision,” a Northumbria Police spokesman explained, adding that a third vehicle had broken down ahead of the crash scene. He said: “One passenger, a 76-year-old local woman, remains in hospital with potentially life-threatening injuries. Nobody else was seriously injured. “Enquiries into the incident are ongoing and anyone with information, or who may have dashcam footage, is asked to get in touch on 101 to assist officers with their enquiries.”
  12. With recent weather having been rather less than Spring-like, many of us have been frustrated in our hopes to spend some quality time in the garden. And while mere mention of a Bank Holiday often seems to bring the rain, the upcoming long weekend - fingers crossed - could present a perfect opportunity to get out there and see what May treats are coming up. What's more it is currently National Gardening Week - until Sunday, May 6 - so there's no better time to celebrate. Those keen to take advantage of a little more time off work often head straight to the garden centre where not only are there plenty of ideas of how to make the most of your outdoor spaces at any time of year but they also have all the equipment - from gardening gloves and small tools to rakes and spades - that you need to do so. To help those seeking some inspiration, here is our guide to garden centres in the North East which can help those ideas of yours to blossom. Many are open as usual over the early May Bank Holiday weekend but it's always worth calling ahead just to double-check.
  13. Police are searching for witnesses to a crash that left a 76-year-old woman fighting for her life. Three vehicles collided on the A189 Spine Road southbound in Cramlington at around 9.29am on Monday morning. A silver Skoda, black Kia and a grey Vauxhall were involved in the crash prior to the junction for the B1326. One passenger, a 76-year-old local woman, remains in hospital with life-threatening injuries. Officers say no-one else involved was seriously injured. The road was closed for around four hours as emergency services attended and the vehicles were recovered.
  14. A Northumberland transport software firm is ramping up its growth plans following a £20m buyout backed by a private equity investor. LDC – the private equity arm of Lloyds Banking Group – has supported the secondary buyout of Mandata, a Cramlington -based developer of transport management software, in a deal to accelerate the firm’s next growth phase. Mandata, which employs 60 people, designs and develops software that allows haulage firms to manage workflow and data more effectively. Recent innovations have extended functionality into mobile technology platforms, including electronic proof of delivery, and a completely new cloud transport management system which is available to smaller hauliers. Under the leadership of CEO Mark Norcliffe, Mandata, which also has a Leeds office, has grown rapidly and now supports major UK’s haulage businesses, including 30% of Motor Transport’s top 100 operators, managing over 10,000 vehicles. The deal also represents an exit for Synova Capital.
  15. Rail enthusiasts on Tyneside were getting all steamed up on this day 50 years ago. The Flying Scotsman thundered through Newcastle Central Station on a non-stop run from London’s King Cross to Edinburgh. The train slowed down to give enthusiasts a better look. It was marking the anniversary of the first ever non-stop journey between London and Edinburgh 40 years earlier. The Flying Scotsman, of course, is the world’s most famous steam engine. The locomotive was built in Doncaster for the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER).
  16. A man’s body has been found in a housing estate in Northumberland. Police were informed of the discovery in Cramlington on Monday afternoon and are now working to identify the man and track down his family. His body was found in the residential estate of Alderwood Park in the Dudley area. Officers have said they believe there are no suspicious circumstances surrounding his death. A Northumbria Police spokesman said: “At around 1.39pm today (Monday, April 30) police received a report that a body of a man had been found in Alderwood Park, Dudley. “Inquiries to identify the body and trace the next of kin are ongoing but there is not believed to be any third party involvement.”
  17. An elderly woman was airlifted to hospital after a three-car smash on the A189 Spine Road. One lane of the southbound carriageway was initially closed between the A1061 and Moor Farm Roundabout after the crash at around 9.30am on Monday. However the stretch of road near Cramlington was closed completely by emergency services for around three hours after they arrived on the scene. The Great North Air Ambulance landed on the road and took an elderly female passenger suffering potentially life-threatening injuries to hospital. Nobody else involved in the crash was seriously hurt. Pictures from the scene showed a silver car missing its boot and roof and a black car which had been shunted onto the grass verge.
  18. A stretch of the A189 Spine Road has been closed southbound after a 'serious' two vehicle crash. The road has been closed by emergency services who have been called to the scene between the A1061 and Moor Farm Roundabout. Lane one was closed shortly after the crash at around 9.50am on Monday but the entire southbound carriageway has since been shut to drivers. Northumbria Police expect that the road will be closed until at least lunchtime. It is believed that the Great North Air Ambulance has landed at the scene. Follow live updates as the situation unfolds below - to get breaking news sent straight to your phone, download our app here
  19. The new North East’s Company of the Year has called for the Government’s procurement policy must be skewed towards small businesses in the wake of Carillion’s collapse. Engineering and construction company Merit, which is based in Cramlington, Northumberland, saw off tough competition from larger firms Quorn Foods and Fairstone to triumph as Company of the Year at the North East Business Awards grand final last week. Merit – which was one of the finalists for the same award 10 years ago – has seen big jumps in sales over the last three years and is now regularly beating big corporations to high profile contracts, including work for London’s Royal Albert Hall, Harrods, GSK, the British Antarctic Survey and for Rolls-Royce. The firm, which has 120 employees and uses 80 agency workers, has a specialist fabrication centre based near its Cramlington HQ and its own in-house team of designers, pipe work fitters and electricians, who can carry out pre-fabrication work which gives them an edge over the competition. Earlier this week, it won a contract from E.ON to develop a community energy centre as part of a regeneration project for Blackwall Reach in Tower Hamlets, London. Managing director Tony Wells said he was delighted with Merit’s big award win and described it as a significant success for SMEs.
  20. Northumberland engineering and construction company Merit has seen off tough competition to be named North East Company of the Year for 2018. The Cramlington firm , which earned its place in the grand final of the North East Business Awards after triumphing as Tyneside and Northumberland Company of the Year in February, saw off Boldon-based financial advisory group Fairstone and Teesside vegetarian food producer Quorn to win the title. Merit’s managing director Tony Wells was delighted with the company’s win, saying: “Having seen the other finalists I thought we had done very well to get here in the first place, so I’m a bit shocked to be honest. “Over the years we have done some very iconic projects and right now we are working at the Royal Albert Hall and we beat a big company to the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult centre in Stevenage. We’ve beated a few multibillion-dollar corporations so I guess we’re doing something right.” The company’s victory marked the culmination of the annual celebration of the best of North East business, with almost 600 people gathered at Hardwick Hall in Sedgefield, County Durham. The awards heard from guest speaker Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and from Lucy Winskell, chair of associate sponsors the North East England Chamber of Commerce.
  21. Northumberland engineering and construction company Merit has seen off tough competition to be named North East Company of the Year for 2018. The Cramlington firm, which had qualified for the prize after being named Tyneside and Northumberland Company of the Year in February, saw off Boldon-based financial advisory group Fairstone and Teesside vegetarian food producer Quorn to win the title. Merit – which was one of the finalists for the same award 10 years ago – has seen big increases in turnover over the last three years and has won high profile contracts at London’s Royal Albert Hall and for the British Antarctic Survey. The company’s victory marked the culmination of the annual celebration of the best of North East business, with almost 600 people gathered at Hardwick Hall in Sedgefield, County Durham. Other winners included Beamish Museum, AkzoNobel Ashington, Lingotot and Keepmoat Homes. Helen Dalby, senior editor of The Journal, opened the event with a rallying call for the region’s business community, saying that the Great Exhibiton of the North, Tall Ships and other events meant 2018 was the region’s “time to shine”.
  22. A North East investment firm is hoping for blockbuster returns on its latest financial venture, after taking a stake in the latest Liam Neeson movie. Invest Northern Counties, an investment vehicle managed by Christopher Reynolds, of Cramlington, Northumberland, hopes keen investors will be ‘Taken’ with his latest scheme after becoming junior partner in the film Normal People, which also stars Oscar and Bafta-nominated Lesley Manville. The pair play a married couple who face challenges when a cancer diagnosis is made. Though the film is being shot on location in Belfast, Mr Reynolds hopes more than 200 jobs will be created across the UK as part of the project. The film, a romantic drama, will be pitched to buyers at Cannes next month. Mr Reynolds said: “This is a very exciting project for the UK film industry and I’m delighted to be bringing North East investment into it.” Invest Northern Counties was launched to give those in the North East the opportunity to invest in a range of film projects both nationally and internationally and CR67 Limited has been devised within the firm solely for this movie.
  23. An “unprecedented” demand for beds and “old fashioned” hospital facilities “probably” contributed to the North East’s biggest norovirus outbreak in years, a report has found. The Northumbria Healthcare NHS Trust was first hit with the winter vomiting bug in early December last year when a visitor brought mussels onto a ward for a patient at Wansbeck General Hospital (WGH). It then had visitor restrictions in place for two months at all nine of its sites as it battled outbreaks of both flu and norovirus, with many wards closed altogether. Now the trust has commissioned an expert report into why the outbreaks were so protracted and how to prevent them in the future. In particular, it examined the outbreaks on wards four and five at WGH to determine why they were “especially bad”. Professor T H Pennington, who wrote the report, said between December and February there had been 12 outbreaks at Wansbeck General, four at North Tyneside General Hospital and three at the Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital in Cramlington.
  24. A crash in Northumberland has left two people fighting for their lives after their car collided with a van. The pair sustained life-threatening injuries in the crash involving a Volkswagen Golf and a Peugeot Boxer van, whose driver suffered minor injuries. The air ambulance was called and airlifted one of the Golf’s occupants to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI), while paramedics drove the other in an ambulance. The van driver was taken to Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital (NSEC) for treatment. Police say the crash happened at approximately 1.20pm near Harbour View in Cambois, and are urging any witnesses to get in touch. A statement from Northumbria Police said: “Both occupants of the VW Golf were taken to the RVI for treatment for life-threatening injuries. The occupant of the van was taken to NSEC Hospital with minor injuries.
  25. The North East skies were illuminated by lightning strikes on Saturday night. Dramatic flashes were caught on camera in Newcastle, Cramlington and Whitley Bay. The rumbles of thunder also echoed out across the region. The Met Office had warned of thunderstorms which can often go hand-in-hand with warm weather. During the day there had been temperatures close to 20 degrees before the storms rolled in after sunset. Readers posted pictures and videos on our Facebook capturing the lightning strikes.
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