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Durham firm recognised for Armed Forces Covenant

A North East construction company has been recognised for its commitment to being an armed forces-friendly operation.

Esh Group, based in Bowburn, Durham, recently signed a commitment to uphold the Armed Forces Covenant.

The Covenant is a promise to ensure those who are serving or have served in the armed forces, and their families, are treated fairly.

It sets out pledges ranging from helping former personnel into civilian work, to supporting reservists and offering help to cadet units.

And now the Ministry of Defence’s Employer Recognition Scheme has handed the company – which employs more than 1,200 people – a silver award for 2016.

As part of the Employer Recognition Scheme, Esh Group representatives were at a dinner for North East firms at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, attended by Prince Michael of Kent.

Prince Michael of Kent with Brian Manning. Credit: Esh Group

“It makes enormous sense for companies like ours to support our armed forces and the people who make them such extraordinary organisations. We look forward to continuing our work with the MoD to offer all the help we can.”

– Brian Manning, chief executive of Esh Group

“We have been an armed forces-friendly company for a long time, so we were more than pleased to sign the Covenant and outline our commitments. “We seek to support the employment of veterans young and old, and advertise all of our vacancies to the forces’ Career Transition Partnership to establish a career pathway for service leavers.” “We’ve also provided the armed forces with access to 1,500 students via our Building My Skills programme in all operational areas – they’ve delivered 19 sessions.”

– Chris Watson, HR director, Esh Group

Woman punched in face in Bowburn attempted robbery

​A woman has been punched in the face during an attempted robbery in Bowburn, County Durham.

The woman was walking between Mary and Bede Terrance at around 9.30pm on September 17 when she was approached by two men who tried to grab her car keys and mobile phone.

The men made off without the items.

Both men are described as being in their late teens and of slim build.

“This was clearly a shocking and painful incident for the lady involved who suffered injuries to her face during the assault. With this in mind I am keen to hear from anyone who can help to identify these men. Anyone with information should contact police urgently.”

– DC Alan Meehan from Durham City CID

Police can be contacted on 101.

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County Durham asbestos settlement

A fashion designer from County Durham who developed terminal cancer after making asbestos snow balls from dust in a local factory when she was a girl has won a settlement.

Caroline Wilcock, 51, grew up in Bowburn, next to an asbestos firm. Children collected the asbestos to make snow balls.

Miss Wilcock's case against Cape Intermediate Holdings PLC, previously known as The Cape Asbestos Company, was due to be held but the firm settled with her out of court.

She suffered asbestos poisoning between 1967 and 1983, and was diagnosed with mesothelioma three years ago.

"I feel I had a responsibility to the community I grew up in to pursue my claim and to now talk about it publicly.

"My case establishes that the people of Bowburn were exposed to the dangers of asbestos over forty years ago and were largely unaware or unable to do anything to protect themselves and their children.

"I am angry that I and other children came into contact with asbestos whilst playing in our village and around our homes, and feel certain that my case will not be in isolation."

– Caroline Wilcock

"There are few lawyers and law firms who would take on a claim that presented such obstacles and that posed such risks.

"I am delighted that we were able to obtain substantial monetary recognition for Caroline but I fear the Government's intended reforms to the financing of mesothelioma claims will bring an end to such public interest litigation."

– Andrew Morgan, Field Fisher Waterhouse

The firm that operated the factory no longer exists so her team brought their case against the successor.

Man hit in face with rock while driving

Police say a man has been left 'extremely shocked' after a large rock was thrown from a footbridge through his car windscreen, cutting his face. The 45 year old was driving on the A1M when a group of young people were throwing rocks from the bridge.

Incidents like this have happened near Bowburn and Coxhoe in County Durham on October 4-5. Durham Serious Crime Team wants to hear from anyone with information on 101.