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Funeral for family killed in A18 crash

The Cockburn family

The funeral of five members of the same family killed in a crash on the A18 near Grimsby will take place today

The Cockburn family from County Durham were on their way to a dance competition in Skegness when the crash happened. The road is known for being one of the most dangerous in the country.

Flowers at the scene

Chester-le-Street housing staff sign up for 100km trek

Colleagues from a housing association in Chester-le-Street have signed up for a challenge to walk 100km in 30 hours.

Esther Windass, Peter Hewitson, Arshia Bhatti, and Craig Ball from Cestria Community Housing will join the Oxfam Trailtrekker 2013 challenge to raise money for the charity.

"We are not underestimating the scale of this challenge, it's going to be very demanding, but we will help and encourage each other along the way and with help from our support crew, we are confident that we will be able to achieve this.

"The most important part of this challenge is to raise money for Oxfam and all monies raised will go a long way to making a difference to other people's lives. We are nervous but also looking forward to the challenge."

– Esther Windass, event organiser and customers services team leader at Cestria Community Housing

The team, known as Blister Blasters, will join more than 300 other teams to walk 100km through Yorkshire between June 1 and 2.

A back-up team, also from Cestria Community Housing, will support the group along the way by providing first aid, encouraging words and preparing hot meals.

"I am very proud of the staff for taking on such a big challenge but I know they have been training hard and am confident that they will succeed by raising lots of money for a worthy cause. As well as the main team and support crew, they have the support of all the staff within the organisation."

– Paul Fiddaman, chief executive at Cestria Community Housing

Money raised will make a difference and change lives by providing clean water and sanitation during emergencies, funding long-term projects in areas such as health or education and help towards campaign work in developing countries such as Africa.

To back the team, visit


Pub cleaner waves a fond farewell after forty years

Sheila Nicholson is retiring at the age of 71, having started work at The Red Lion pub in Chester-le-Street since 1972 - when she took over from her mother.

There will be a celebration party at the pub for Mrs Nicholson and some of the regulars.

"Shelia is one of the best people I know.

She's such a lovely person and the team and I will be so sad to see her go. It's always a pleasure to come down in the morning and see Shelia.

She's an important part of the success of the pub and with her passion to making sure the pub is spotless; she leaves some very big shoes to fill.

There's no smudge, smear or dust that she can't spot."

– Red Lion manager Jill Harkness


Cleaner hangs up duster after 40 years

A cleaner has hung up her duster after 41 years at the same County Durham pub.

71-year-old Sheila Nicholson worked six days a week until 18 months ago at the Red Lion in Chester-le-Street.

The great-grandmother still worked five days a week, starting six-hour shifts at 6am.

Working at the Red Lion in Front Street runs in her family, as her mother worked there for 25 years.

Mrs Nicholson, who has four sons, 12 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, is known for her thorough cleaning.

"I have thoroughly enjoyed it and I am going to miss the people. But I will still pop in to keep an eye on things."

– Sheila Nicholson

She agreed that people nowadays may not have such a strong work ethic, but conceded: "May be that's just the age I am now."

North-East school helps launch GO 20 campaign

Red Rose Primary School in Chester-le-Street is helping to launch a new campaign that is aiming to bring speed limits down to 20 miles per hour around homes, shops and schools.

It is hoped that the roll-out of the new GO 20 campaign will help reduce the amount of accidents and help to create a safer environment for children to walk and cycle home in.

The GO 20 campaign is being launched nation-wide and marks the start of Road Safety Week.

The North East is already seen to be ahead of the game, the campaign says, with Newcastle City Council's move to lower speed limits in residential areas having a noticeable drop in the number of crashes in many areas.

The road safety charity Brake is now calling for other areas to do the same thing.

"Everyone in the North East should be able to walk and cycle in their community without fear or threat: it's a basic right, and GO 20 is about defending that.

Anyone who drives can help bring this about: pledge to GO 20 in communities, even where the limit's still 30: you'll be helping to protect people around you, and you'll hardly notice the difference to your journey.

We're also calling on the government and more local authorities to recognise the need for 20mph, and the huge demand for safe walking and cycling, and GO 20."

– Nick Batty, campaign spokesperson for Brake

School ready to reopen after £1.26m makeover

Roseberry Primary and Nursery School is ready to reopen after a £1.26m refurbishment.

The school, on Pelton Lane in Chester-le-Street, will be officially reopened by the Chairman of Durham County Council, Cllr Linda Marshall.

"The whole school community is thrilled with the end result. It's like having a brand new building with lots of space and new resources such as our dedicated cookery room.

"The children and staff love to come to the school and it's been a boost for the local area thanks to a newly refitted community room."

– June Lee, Headteacher
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