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  1. Rachel Sweeney

National award for one-eyed County Durham cat

A cat from County Durham has been selected as 'National Cat of the Year'. Nelson, owned by Andrea Huntley-Crow, of Seaham, has also won the Most Incredible Story award.

Nelson, 20, has had struggles. He was thrown into the sea in a sack, lived rough on the docks, lost an eye and suffered a heart condition.

We caught up with Nelson before he was announced as the winner.


RNLI rescue labrador who got into deep water

Cruz the labrador, who was rescued by RNLI lifeguards.

Lifeguards in Seaham came to the rescue of a labrador who got into trouble while going for a dip.

The dog, called Cruz, was spotted struggling in the water 300m off the north end of Seaham beach yesterday afternoon.

Four canoeists helped two RNLI lifeguards to get the distressed animal back to the beach.

After a drink of water, Cruz seemed unaffected by his ordeal.

His owner thanked the RNLI, and added: "Cruz is usually such an obedient dog, he even fetches my newspaper.

"He always comes back when I call him but I think he was just having an “off” day!"

Man appears on multiple sexual offence charges

A man has appeared before Sunderland Magistrates today (March 27) charged with a string of sexual offences.

27-year-old Carl Todner of Elgin Avenue, Seaham, appeared on five counts of sexual assault, one of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and another of outraging public decency.

He has also been charged with four counts of exposure.

The offences are alleged to have taken place in the Sunderland and South Tyneside areas between March 9 and March 25.

He has been remanded in custody to appear again on April 7.


Seaham opera star to receive Queen's Medal for Music

Opera star Sir Thomas Allen Credit: Fiona Hanson/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Opera star Sir Thomas Allen, who was born in County Durham, is to be awarded the Queen's Medal for Music 2013. The baritone and director has been recognised by Buckingham Palace for his major musical influence on the nation.

The Seaham-born singer is said to be the inspiration behind Billy Elliot. Sir Thomas' talent was first discovered at grammar school in the 1960s. He went on to earn a place at the Royal College of Music.

He made his debut with the Royal Opera House as Donald in Billy Budd in 1971. In 1989, he was made a CBE and 10 years later he was knighted.

RNLI teams rescue pier-leap pitbull

RNLI crew members rescued a pit bull from the sea in County Durham after the dog jumped into the water from a pier. They stopped its owner from jumping in to save the dog at Seaham on Saturday.

A passer-by had called 999. The Seaham Coastguard Rescue Team and the Sunderland RNLI inshore lifeboat crew pulled the dog to safety.

"The owner was worried about her pet and told emergency services that she was going to enter the water to try to rescue her dog.

"This is something we strongly advise against, as you are likely to get into difficulty yourself.

"We find that most dogs manage to get themselves back to shore safe and well, but some owners do not.

"We'd also encourage owners to keep their pets on a lead. But if they do enter the water or fall down a cliff edge, please call 999 straight away and ask for the Coastguard."

– Graham Dawson, Watch Manager at Humber Coastguard

"Although primarily we are here to rescue human life we are happy for our assistance to be extended to animals, particularly as it can be so tempting for owners to enter the water putting themselves in a great amount of danger."

– Helmsman Ian Rowan

Body of missing Peter Jackson found

The body of a missing father-of-two has been found in woods in Northumberland.

Police today confirmed this afternoon that the dead man is Peter Jackson, a golf professional from Seaham in County Durham.

Mr Jackson's body was discovered in a wooded area by a dog walker at 3.50pm on Sunday. There are no suspicious circumstances surrounding his death and the Coroner has been informed.

"Officers have been with Peter's family since the moment he went missing and we would like to express our sincere sorrow now that we have confirmed he has been found."

– Assistant Chief Constable Dave Orford
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