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School leads the way with dementia

A school on Wearside claims to be leading the way towards a Dementia Friendly Society.

Bernard Gilpin School, in Houghton le Spring, is the only one in the North to take part in the Prime Minister's Challenge on Dementia and has now opened it's doors to welcome sufferers in.

It's the only school in the region to invite dementia sufferers and their carers in for specialist activites.

It's converted an old store room into this new space called the living room and will be hosting weekly events for older members of the community and dementia sufferers.

The mayor of Sunderland, Councillor Bob Heron, is also chair of governors of Bernard Gilpin Primary School.

He told our ITV Tyne Tees what they were trying to achieve.


Houghton girls lead the way at top theatre schools

A teenager says she's excited after gaining a place at a prestigious theatre college in London that's produced stars like Julie Andrews and Catherine Zeta Jones.

Natasha Agnew is just 16, and is looking forward to taking her place at Arts Ed with the next generation of theatre greats.

She's not the only performer from Houghton-Le-Spring trying to put the town on the showbiz map.

Maria May Thompson will soon graduate from the world famous Italia Conti school.

Watch Frances Read's report.

Full Report: No charges for fatal lorry crash

No charges will be brought against a lorry driver whose vehicle collided with a car in County Durham last year - killing four people including a baby - on a road between Seaham and Houghton le Spring.

The driver had been arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving but it was later found he had suffered a coughing fit that caused him to lose consciousness.

You can watch the full report from Frances Read below.

Lorry driver suffered coughing fit and lost consciousness during crash

A lorry driver from Hetton-le-Hole will not be charged over a car crash which killed four members of the same family after he suffered a coughing fit which caused him to lose consciousness, the Crown Prosecution Service said.

The crash between happened on April 25 last year between Seaham and Houghton-le-Spring by Sharpley Golf Club.

Robert Reed, his wife Margaret, 18-year-old Natalie Simpson, who was the partner of their grandson, and her 14-month-old daughter Destiny, suffered fatal injuries.

The lorry driver from Hetton-le-Hole will not face any charges.

The CPS explained medical tests showed he had recently had whooping cough infection, and that his blood pressure dropped when he coughed.

The trucker was arrested after the crash on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving.

"I would like to extend our deepest sympathies to the families of those involved in this tragic incident, but I would hope that our decision brings some measure of closure to them.

"Immediately following the collision, the driver in this case gave an account that he had experienced a coughing fit which had caused him to suddenly lose consciousness.

"This type of event is known medically as 'cough syncope'.

"Following the collision the driver was taken to Sunderland Royal Infirmary, where he was examined by a doctor.

"A series of tests were conducted that showed that he had recently been subject to a whooping cough infection.

"The tests also showed that the driver's blood pressure dropped to low levels during a coughing fit, which could have caused him to lose consciousness.

"The doctor stated at that time that the results were consistent with a diagnosis of 'cough syncope due to acute whooping cough infection'.

"The CPS engaged the services of two further independent medical professionals, one of whom was an expert in syncope, to scrutinise the initial diagnosis made.

"Both agreed independently that the medical evidence was consistent with this diagnosis.

"Given that no evidence could be found to establish an alternative version of events, the case did not pass the evidential stage of the full code test and a prosecution will not now be brought against the driver of the lorry."

– Paul Lee, Crown advocate for CPS North East

No charges for lorry driver who killed four members of same family

No charges are to be brought against a lorry driver whose vehicle collided with a car between Seaham and Houghton-le-Spring almost a year ago, killing all four members of the same family.

Robert Reed, 75, was driving a people carrier with his wife, Margaret, 74, in the front and Natalie Simpson, 18, and her 14-month-old daughter, Destiny Reed, in the back, when the Renault Scenic was hit by a lorry driving in the opposite direction, killing three of the family instantly.

Margaret Reed was taken to James Cook hospital with serious injuries, but died later.

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