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  1. A Northumberland hospital has reassured staff and patients after fire safety concerns were raised over the new building. One NHS worker, who has asked not to be named, has questioned whether the fire safety at Northumbria Emergency Specialist Care Hospital is up to standard after seeing firefighters regularly at the hospital. The Cramlington hospital, which first opened three years ago, is currently being extended, with a new ambulatory ward under construction. During the work, firefighters from Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service have been offering advice to correct “minor defects”. However, fire hoses have been laid out outside the building, prompting one worried worker to fear that there was a fire risk. He said: “The only reason why a hospital would have fire hoses outside if the fire brigade had a huge concern about the fire safety at the hospital.”
  2. From rockets, to Viking boats, or Newcastle United’s colours, this North East funeral firm has had all kinds of requests for bespoke coffins. Go As You Please, which has outlets across the region, specialises in custom made coffins. Its unique Irn Bru design caused a stir after going viral on social media. The business was set up by Carl Marlow, of Ponteland, Northumberland, who said bespoke coffins have become increasingly popular. “Marijuana leaves is a common request,” the 50-year-old said. “We have done Elvis, The Beatles, vampires. We made a coffin into a rocket and made a canal boat for someone. “There have been Newcastle United football ones, Liverpool, the Scottish flag, and we made a Viking boat for someone who thought they were a Viking.”
  3. The most dangerous spots for cash point muggings and thefts in the North East have been revealed. Newcastle comes out on top with the most crimes close to an ATM over the last decade, according to recent data. Northumbria Police recorded 207 thefts or robberies in the city, more than a hundred more crimes than second-placed Gateshead. The figures translate to one in every 1,432 residents suffering at the hands of thieves in the last decade. This is particularly high compared to other large cities such as Leeds (one in 5,143), Birmingham (one in 5,459) and even London (one in 6,340). The research compiled by MoneySuperMarket through Freedom of Information requests shows Northumbria Police is the fifth busiest force for cashpoint thefts and robberies nationwide, with 801 crimes recorded in the last decade.
  4. It has been a proud day for students collecting their A-level results. But few have overcome so much in their lives as Cramlington teenager Dan Mattison. He was still being treated for leukaemia in January, but still managed to score three As in his exams. Netting top scores in Biology, Chemistry and Maths, Dan, 18, is now planning to become a doctor himself, inspired by his own experience of medical treatment. The Cramlington Learning Village student said: “Whilst I was still receiving treatment, I was tired a lot and going to hospital quite a lot. “I found my exams hard, so I wasn’t sure how I was going to do. But I seem to have managed ok in the end.
  5. A group of teenagers have had to give up their summer holidays after admitting to setting a newly refurbished playground on fire. Five teenagers, aged 15 and 16, admitted to vandalising play equipment at Seven Oaks Park in Cramlington, Northumberland, after they were caught on CCTV. Police said the play area was set alight in the early hours of July 26, just weeks after the playground reopened following a £100,000 refurbishment. After consulting Cramlington Town Council and the Youth Offending Team, the boys were given an out of court disposal, which allows police to deal with young offenders without going to court. The disposal was given on the condition that the youths would carry out unpaid work in the community. Neighbourhood Sergeant Steven Nicklin said: “After we appealed to the public for help with our investigation, we were quickly able to identify a group of teenagers caught on the park’s CCTV.
  6. Hexham General Hospital’s urgent care unit will stay closed overnight, after a “last resort” trial. Northumberland NHS leaders say they’ve taken the decision “with great reluctance” to shut the overnight service indefinitely. The unit closed its doors between 10pm and 8am on July 18, as a result of “staffing pressures”. The closure was initially set to last for “at least” four weeks, but health bosses pledged to keep the matter “under constant review”. With the four weeks up, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust says the closure will now last “for an indeterminate period”. It says the decision has been taken purely on safety grounds, and will “ensure patients get access to a reliable and safe service”.
  7. North East life-saving sisters-in-law Kelly Best and Christine Stephenson are backing a new project to map Britain’s public defibrillators. Christine’s brother and Kelly’s husband, Neil Best, died in 2003 of an undiagnosed heart defect. In his memory they set out to place defibrillators across the North East and raise awareness of CPR. And now, after five years, they have around 400 defibrillators across the region, while eight lives have been saved - thanks to their machines. The pair have now welcomed a new scheme where the NHS, British Heart Foundation (BHF) and Microsoft have vowed to map the UK’s public defibrillator. The BHF has estimated that thousands more lives could be saved if the locations were known to emergency call handlers.
  8. Inspirational lifesavers Kelly Best and Christine Stephenson have been nominated for our prestigious Chronicle Champions award. In July we told how their love for the same man brought them closer together after his devastating death. Christine’s brother and Kelly’s husband, Neil Best, died aged 32 in 2003 of an undiagnosed heart defect. And in Neil’s memory they set out to place defibrillators across the North East and raise awareness of CPR. Now, after five years, they have raised around £400,000 to get nearly 400 defibrillators across the region, while eight lives have been saved - thanks to their machines. And now they have been nominated in our Champion Fundraiser category. The Chronicle Champions Awards recognise bravery, devotion and selflessness in unsung heroes across the region. This is your chance to thank those people in our community that deserve to be recognised for their extraordinary efforts. We welcome your entries for our 11 unique categories. To enter these awards – please click here for an online entry form – otherwise contact Amy Taylor on 0191 201 6092 or email amy.taylor@reachplc.com and she will advise on an alternative entry.
  9. Their teenage years may have been turbulent, but dressed up to the nines at their end-of-year prom, these youngsters were on top of the world. This ‘alternative prom’, held at the Life Science Centre on Tuesday, offered an evening of joy for care leavers and other young people who may have missed out on a more traditional school celebration. Everything, from dresses, to make-up, to private security, were provided for free by local businesses and community groups eager to help out. Organisational help came from the Big Days Project, which helps create positive experiences for children across the region. Outfits came from Nicola Tunstill, a Cramlington mum who has spent the last year working on ‘Prom in the Community’, her group which loans out dresses and suits to ensure every teenager can go to the ball for a fraction of the cost. DJs, bouncers and taxi companies ensured the event was a success from start to finish, while around 20 local hairdressers and beauticians gave everyone picture-perfect hair and make-up.
  10. A brazen shop thief took a detour on her way to court in order to steal £250-worth of handbags. Kayleigh Cherry was en route to South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court back in April for separate offences when she decided to stop off at a TK Maxx store and help herself to the designer goods. The 29-year-old was due in the dock at 10am but stole the handbags just 30 minutes before, a court heard. She was given a community order on that appearance but was back in court again for the TK Maxx offence on Wednesday, The mum-of-two, of Brigham Close, Montagu Estate, Newcastle, pleaded guilty to two counts of shop theft, both from TK Maxx, in Cramlington, North Tyneside Magistrates’ Court was told that Cherry first went into the store on April 16 and helped herself to £1,500-worth of designer handbags before leaving.
  11. Their family has been torn apart in the cruellest way imaginable - and in response, they started saving lives. Rachel and Keith Kerry’s beloved son Owen was stabbed to death on Christmas eve in 2016. Innocent Owen, 19, had been celebrating with friends at a Cramlington social club, when he was attacked by senseless murderers Brian Cahill and Lyndsey Harper, now serving life sentences. And as they try to rebuild their lives, his family have been determined to “honour Owen’s legacy”. They’ve raised more than £10,000 for the Northumbria Blood Bikes, volunteers who deliver urgently-needed medical supplies, such as the blood which medics used in their fight to save Owen, across the region. They’ve also battled to encourage people to donate life-saving blood. Thanks to their ‘a pint for Owen’ initiative, hundreds of people in Cramlington have given blood, with many becoming regular donors. The Chronicle Champions Awards recognise bravery, devotion and selflessness in unsung heroes across the region. This is your chance to thank those people in our community that deserve to be recognised for their extraordinary efforts. We welcome your entries for our 11 unique categories. To enter these awards – please click here for an online entry form – otherwise contact Amy Taylor on 0191 201 6092 or email amy.taylor@reachplc.com and she will advise on an alternative entry.
  12. This is how inspectors rate the North East schools offering specific provision for children with special educational needs and disabilities. The following list covers the state schools listed under the ‘special schools’ category on the Ofsted website for our area for which reports are available, and offers a brief summary of their most recent inspection report. We’ve included the web addresses of all the schools listed so you can easily check who they cater for. Schools which have converted to academies and haven’t had an inspection since will not be included. All information is based on the school’s latest Ofsted reports and is accurate as of July 27, 2018. Hadrian School, Newcastle: Described as an “exceptional special school” this school works closely with other organisations to achieve strong outcomes for its pupils. Relationships are “nurturing and caring” and the important role of parents is recognised. Many parents say the school has “transformed their child’s life”.
  13. This is the moment a burst pipe sent water shooting 20ft into the air in a Northumberland town. The water main burst near Hartford Gardens, in Cramlington, on Friday morning and the supply was eventually shut off at around 7pm. Dramatic drone footage captured by Jason Carrick showed the water shooting into the air and across a nearby field. His partner Donna Scott, 32, said they were shocked when they discovered the water pipe had burst. She said: “It started on Friday morning and was still pouring out in the evening. “Northumbrian Water weren’t on the scene until about 3pm and they said they couldn’t turn it off because it supplies water to Morpeth and Bedlington.
  14. A small magnetic device invented by a Northumberland entrepreneur is set to make a big splash in the global oil, gas and power industries following financial backing. Jon Naylor has more than 30 years’ experience in senior positions within the industrial pipelines sector and he now acts as a top level consultant for clients around the world through his Bedlington firm , JNCS Business Services Ltd. Now Mr Naylor has invented the TorqTag, a magnetic piece of kit used on pipelines which is already winning orders around the world – and is poised to reach new heights after winning support from the new North East Small Loan Fund Supported By The European Regional Development Fund. The TorqTag was developed when Mr Naylor realised there was an industry need to improve processes around the closure of the dozens of flange pieces that join sections of pipeline to each other. This process is done by engineers in a precise order, to make sure connections are made as they should be, and the TorqTag temporarily attaches to each bolt, helping technicians keep track of their bolting sequence. Having already won orders from existing and new clients around the world, Mr Naylor has worked with regional fund management firm NEL Fund Managers to secure a £10,000 Small Loan Fund investment that is helping improve the manufacturing processes around the TorqTag.
  15. A woman suffered serious spinal injuries after being thrown from a horse on a beach in Northumberland. The rider was taken to Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital in Cramlington following the fall on Wednesday afternoon. The Seahouses RNLI was called to St Aidan’s beach at 4.40pm to help the woman as the ambulance service made its way to the scene. There was concern that the tide was rising and the woman was close to the water line. She suffered suspected serious shoulder and spinal injuries and as the RNLI volunteers were about to start treating her, paramedics arrived on scene and she was taken to hospital. A spokesman for Seahouses RNLI said: “The crew then assisted the paramedics to stabilise the casualty and together with local coastguards, to carefully transfer the casualty to a stretcher, and then on to the ambulance. Once this was safely done, the ILB returned to station.”
  16. A Northumberland tech firm has teamed up with industry giant Caterpillar on a £2.8m clean energy project. Cleantech engineering firm Avid Technology, based in Cramlington, will work with Caterpillar UK and Imperial College London to develop a new battery storage system for electric machinery. Part funded by Innovate UK’s Faraday Challenge Industrial Strategy Fund, the project will see the consortium working together to significantly improve battery life. The overall aim is to create an advanced battery system capable of meeting the life cycle and load demands of a heavy duty electric or hybrid vehicle, whilst still delivering the high levels of energy density required. Avid’s core expertise lies in the design of power electronics and motors used in electric propulsion systems for the electric and hybrid vehicle industry, robotics and aerospace sectors. To meet increasing demand for automotive electronics and powertrain technology, the firm has invested more than £2m in its Cramlington HQ since 2017, extending its range of services and expanding its research and manufacturing capabilities.
  17. Two people have been taken to hospital after a Range Rover crashed into a house in Northumberland. Emergency services were called to Ark Royal Close in Blyth on Thursday evening following the crash. A North East Ambulance Service spokesperson confirmed a man and woman in the vehicle had been treated for suspected spinal injuries. Both have been taken to Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital in Cramlington. A Northumbria Police spokesperson confirmed the force received a report of a crash involving a house at 7.51pm. A cordon can be seen in place around the property, and pictures shows neighbours gathering in the street following the crash.
  18. Arsonists have destroyed parts of a playground just weeks after a £100,000 refurbishment. The play area in Seven Oaks Park on Dudley Lane in Cramlington, Northumberland, was vandalised in the early hours of Thursday morning by “hooligans” who set fire to the equipment. CCTV footage of the incident has been given to police as detectives appeal for witnesses to come forward to identify the culprits. Officers say the vandals entered the play area - which only reopened last month - at approximately 3.15am and started fires, badly damaging the equipment before fleeing the scene. Confirming the incident is being treated as arson, Northumbria Police neighbourhood inspector, Neil Hall, said: “We’re asking for help from the community to find those responsible for causing this senseless damage. “The council has been forced to close the park and the impact this will have on residents in the area can’t be underestimated.
  19. A range of North East produced products will be shown off in Cramlington this weekend at the Proper Food and Drink Festival. Admission to the festival in Seven Oaks Park is free. It is open between 10am and 5pm on Saturday and Sunday. It is the third time the event has been held in Cramlington , having already pitched up in North Shields, South Shields and Whitley Bay this year. Mark Deakin, who started Proper Food and Drink Festivals in 2012 with his wife Shelley, said: “Although it’s one of our newest locations, we’re delighted to be coming back to Cramlington. The first two years here went really well. The site is ideal for us. Visitors will recognise some familiar and favourite products, made by suppliers who live around here, but we’re also always introducing new exhibitors to broaden our appeal.” Festival-goers can buy all sorts of food – from cheesecakes to chilli sauce – and try drinks made by local micro-breweries and distilleries.
  20. Sisters-in-law Christine Stephenson and Kelly Best’s love for the same man brought them closer together after his devastating death. Christine’s brother and Kelly’s husband, Neil Best, died in 2003 of an undiagnosed heart defect. Now they have become inspirational life-savers after joining forces to safeguard other people’s health. In Neil’s memory they set out to place defibrillators across the North East and raise awareness of CPR. And now, after five years, they have around 400 defibrillators across the region, while eight lives have been saved - thanks to their machines. Kelly, 47, from Cramlington, told Chronicle Live that she would never had discovered her sons carried the same gene that caused their father’s death had he not passed away.
  21. Ross Noble likes to keep his fans on their toes. For more than 20 years the Geordie comedy wonder has been spinning spontaneous stand-up, regularly touring the globe and playing to packed houses. The Cramlington -born star is heading back to his roots with a gig at Newcastle 's City Hall in November. In his shows, the mischievous comic takes his audience on a meandering journey full of ridiculously funny stories, whimsical tangents and offbeat observations – and his unique brand of semi-improvised stand-up has won him a legion of fans. But just when it feels like the 42-year-old comic’s career is becoming predictable, he steers into completely new territory. Quite literally, in the case of his Dave TV shows – Freewheeling and Off Road – that follow him on motorcycle adventures. But more recently in Mel Brooks’s West End musical, Young Frankenstein , which saw him nominated for an Olivier and win a WhatsOnStage Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical. Now, Noble has ditched the choreography and is back on the road with a brand new stand-up tour, El Hablador . Ben Williams talked to him about Christmas albums, giant skulls and working with Mel Brooks. This is your 16th UK tour, with 68 dates announced so far. After 20 years on the road, do you still enjoy travelling the country? ‘It would be hard work if I didn’t! Is that how many shows it is? That seems like a daft number – I’ll put on two extra dates, just to make it up to 70. But, yeah, I do still love it. The great thing about stand-up is you’re face-to-face with real people.’
  22. Poundworld is axing hundreds more jobs across the UK in a fourth list of store closures, including nine in the North East. Administrators at Deloitte, who were appointed last month, have announced the closure of 78 more stores. Shops in Blyth , Cramlington , Darlington, Durham , Stockton plus two in Middlesbrough and two in Washington are the latest to be affected, leading to the loss of 109 jobs. In all, this means 22 Poundworld stores will close across the region. The administrators have also revealed that the distribution centre operations will close tomorrow, Friday July 20, resulting in 299 redundancies across the distribution centre and head office functions. The new list of 78 store closures will result in the redundancies of 907 employees when the stores close on either Thursday July 26, or Sunday, July 29.
  23. Hexham General Hospital’s urgent care unit will be shut overnight for at least four weeks “due to staffing pressures”. The 24-hour emergency care at Hexham hospital has been suspended again according to the Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, who described the move as a “last resort”. A Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust spokeswoman said: “Unfortunately, due to staffing pressures, the urgent care centre at Hexham General Hospital will not be open overnight (10.00pm to 8.00am) for at least the next four weeks. “This decision has been taken as a last resort and is only done to ensure that we can continue to provide the best possible care during the hours where there is peak demand. “We will keep the matter under constant review and as soon as there is an update will make it available. “If anyone requires assistance between 10.00pm and 8.00am, please seek help either through NHS 111 or – in an emergency – 999.”
  24. Poundworld administrators have announced the closure of 40 more stores, including four in the North East. Shops in Peterlee , Middlesbrough, Byker Retail Park in Newcastle and Redcar are affected in the latest list of closures, resulting in 45 job losses. This comes on top of the 105 stores already announced by Clare Boardman and Daniel Butters, restructuring partners at Deloitte who were appointed as joint administrators last month. In all, around 1,797 jobs will be lost across the UK following the closures, with the latest list of 40 set to bring down shutters next Tuesday. Discussions continue between the administrators and interested parties for the potential sale of part, or parts, of the remaining business. Clare Boardman, joint administrator, said: “We would like to thank all the employees for their continued support and commitment during this difficult time. We are keeping staff appraised of developments as they happen.”
  25. There’s barely a house party passes now without at least a suggestion of beer pong, well if you’ve got a more sophisticated drinking palate, there’s a new drinking game that should send you bubbling into a frenzy..Gin Pong. Yes it’s time to ditch the red cups, in favour of cups for some Mothers' Ruin. And you won't need to break the bank to get your hands on a set! We know from our stories on various Newcastle bars and restaurants offering gin promotions, not to mention the many Gin Festivals the city has now hosted, that you all like a drop of the stuff, well know you can incorporate into some friendly rivalry between your party guests. And the good news is that you can get a Gin Pong set for pretty much next to nothing as Home Bargains is selling the game for just £2.99. The find was posted in the Extreme Couponing and Bargains Group on Facebook and quickly racked up thousands of comments on shares. Unfortunately the game doesn't come with gin, but if you want to get one there are branches of Home Bargains in the likes of Gateshead , Jarrow, Wallsend, Blaydon and Cramlington.
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