Newcastle United in Liam Sweeney and John Alder tribute

John Alder and Liam Sweeney John Alder and Liam Sweeney were travelling to New Zealand to see Newcastle United play

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As Newcastle United get their Premier League season under way, two fans are missing. Gone but not forgotten, tributes have taken place for Liam Sweeney and John Alder, two of the 298 killed in the MH17 air disaster.

A minute's silence was observed by fans at St James's Park as they paid tribute to two Newcastle United fans who died on doomed Flight MH17.

Liam Sweeney and John Alder were killed while making a 23,000 mile round trip to see their beloved Magpies play.

Mr Sweeney, 28, and Mr Alder, 63, died along with 296 others when the Malaysian Airways flight MH17 they were travelling on was shot down over Ukraine, on 17 July.

The pair were on the Boeing 777-200ER from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur as part of their journey to see United play a pre-season tour in New Zealand.

The death of two members of the Toon Army has shocked the club and its fans, but it has also united them.

Malcolm Pegg, a friend of both men and co-organiser of a memorial service held at St James' Park days after their deaths, said the club and its fanbase have moved closer as a result of the tragedy.

Floral tributes placed at Liam Sweeney's seat in St James' Park Liam Sweeney's seat was left empty for the opening league game. His brother will then use it for the rest of the season

Mr Pegg said: "The club have acted magnificently towards the lads and their families, there has always been a particularly special bond between Newcastle fans and their club and although that's been tested in recent years, the death of John and Liam has really put things into context and brought us all closer.

"Supporting Newcastle was in their blood, they were fans who, like many others, travelled thousands of miles to follow their club and I think that resonates with everyone in the football family.

"Sadly, they paid the ultimate price."

Fans like Mr Pegg are determined the pair, who attended every first team game and were also regulars at the reserve matches, will not be forgotten.

Tributes at St James' Park Relatives, friends and fans gathered at St James' Park

In the 17th minute of Newcastle's first home friendly since the fans' deaths, a 1-0 win over Real Sociedad on 10 August, the crowd stood and applauded for 60 seconds to mark the date and flight number that claimed the Magpie supporters.

Now supporters groups and local paper The Chronicle are calling on fans to repeat the tribute at every Newcastle game this season.

Mr Sweeney's father Barry told the paper: "It's a nice gesture, it would be great if they did it for the rest of the season and they would be part of every game.

"If Liam knew everyone was clapping for him he wouldn't have believed it but he would have been so proud."

The cover of the first programme of the season features a tribute to the two fans Newcastle United's first programme of the season is in tribute to Liam Sweeney and John Alder

The club is also planning its own tributes, starting with the laying of wreaths by Newcastle and Manchester City captains Fabricio Coloccini and Vincent Kompany in the centre circle ahead of the season's curtain raiser.

The two players were joined by members of the Sweeney and Alder families as well as Jimmy Montgomery representing arch-rivals Sunderland, who have set aside traditional animosity to support their neighbours.

An online fundraising page set up by Sunderland fans has raised more than £33,000 in memory of their neighbours.

The online fund was founded to raise £100 for a floral tribute to the two Toon Army members, the rest will be split between the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and Marie Curie Hospice in Newcastle in accordance with the wishes of the Sweeney and Alder families.

Fund creator Gary Ferguson said: "We may be Sunderland fans, who traditionally have deep rivalry with Newcastle, but there are things far more important than any football games."

And United are planning two permanent memorials to their lost fans.

The Alder Sweeney Memorial Garden will be created outside the Milburn Stand as a place to remember all lost fans.

A memorial service was held at St James' Park for Liam Sweeney and John Alder soon after their deaths were announced.

An opening date is to be confirmed although the club said it would be before Newcastle's home game against Crystal Palace on 30 August.

And they will also launch the Alder Sweeney Community Award which will be presented each year to those who make outstanding contributions to their community.

Newcastle United managing director Lee Charnley said the fact they died while going to follow their team had rocked football fans.

He said: "Supporters travel significant distances and make many sacrifices to support their respective teams, and the fact John and Liam lost their lives in the course of travelling across the world to support their team is something felt by everyone.

"The North East is an amazing place and the sentiments and actions since this tragedy have shown that in times of difficulty the region comes together as one."

Newcastle fans stand for a minute's silence Newcastle United fans held a minute's silence during the club's New Zealand tour, they also applauded in the 17th minute of the team's game against Real Sociedad

Tributes are also being paid away from the football world.

Morrisons, the supermarket chain where Mr Sweeney worked, raised funds the day before the Premier League opener with staff at 18 stores wearing either Newcastle or Sunderland shirts.

Supporters are organising a fundraising tribute night in aid of the two families at the Labour Club in Newcastle on 6 September.

Mr Pegg said: "We are more than just football fans, we are a family and what happened to John and Liam has hit us hard.

"They will not be forgotten."

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    18:00: Good evening Lloyd Watson BBC News

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    17:58: 'Breaking taboo'? Peter Harris Look North

    It's one of the key dates in the Christian calendar. And now one of our region's football clubs is being accused of breaking a taboo by kicking off at 15:00 on a Good Friday.

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    17:52: Wintry showers expected Paul Mooney BBC Weather presenter

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    17:45: Pensioner arrested in raids

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    The pensioner was arrested on suspicion of the cultivation of cannabis during the raids in West Rainton.

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    A man, 43, from a separate address in West Rainton was arrested for the same offence. A man, 34, was arrested in Langley Moor in connection with a burglary.

    17:40: Sure Start cuts approved

    Plans to cut Sure Start children's services in Newcastle have been approved.

    Newcastle City Council says it needs to cut its budget for the centres and concentrate them in the most deprived parts of the city.

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    In 2014, the 29 volunteers at the station, which has been running for 153 years, responded to 65 call outs and rescued 64 people.


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    17:25: More schools fail to make grade

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    Map of performances

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    17:18: Food bank policies 'cruel and unfair'

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    The Benwell food bank feeds thousands of people every month. The Labour MP for Newcastle Central, Chi Onwurah, blamed "cruel" and "unfair" government policies.

    People at foodbank

    Food Minister George Eustice said: "We have reduced taxes for 25 million people, we've taken three million of the lowest earners out of tax altogether, and in the last year food prices have fallen by 1.7% - the first time since 2002."

    16:58: News on the hour

    The top local headlines at 17:00 include:

    • BBC Tees: A plan to build a designer outlet shopping centre near Scotch Corner is expected to win approval later.
    • BBC Newcastle: Jon Harle and Anne Leuchars have a round-up of the day's news.
    16:48: Mountains of snow Damian O'Neil BBC Look North

    Here's the bleak magnificence of Shaun the cameraman, and you can see his beautiful shots of snow and much more on BBC Look North at 18:30 on BBC One.

    Cameraman Shaun
    16:35: I predict a riot... Jon Harle BBC Newcastle

    Coming up from on the show - Tyneside musician Trev Gibb tells us how he's supporting Kaiser Chiefs at the Arena next week. Listen live here.

    Trev Gib and Jon Harle
    16:24: High street remains closed

    The A68 High Street remains closed between the B6297 Wolsingham Road junction in Tow Law and the A692 Consett Road junction in Consett because of snow.

    And the A68 in Corbridge is closed to high-sided vehicles in both directions at Stagshaw Roundabout because of snow. More on BBC Travel News for Teesside and Tyne and Wear.

    16:12: Man 'dismembered possessed dog' Northern Echo

    A man who drowned and dismembered a pet dog told police it died after becoming possessed by an evil spirit.

    16:00: News on the hour

    The top local headlines at 16:00 include:

    • BBC Tees: Three men have been arrested in the Durham area following early morning raids targeting suspected drug dealers and burglars.
    • BBC Newcastle: Jon Harle and Anne Leuchars have a round-up of the day's news.
    15:55: Sedgefield in the snow

    We were sent this photo with the message - Not a bad view from the office at @ManorHouse1707 in Sedgefield this morning!

    Sedgefield in the snow
    15:46: Car boss to do 'unpaid work' The Gazette
    15:37: 'Not bad news for SAFC fans'

    The BBC's head of football, Mark Cole, thinks the fact Sunderland have been last on Match of the Day most this season could bode well for the Wearsiders.

    He said: "It's not personal. We've got a couple of Sunderland fans in the office and the chap who does all our stats is a Sunderland fan so he's keeping a particular eye on it.

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    15:08: Match of the Day to continue

    Sunderland and Newcastle fans (and hopefully soon, Boro fans) might like to know that Premier League highlights will continue to be on Match of the Day through to the 2018-19 season after the BBC agreed a new three-year deal, which was announced today.

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    Papiss Cisse scores for Newcastle against Chelsea
    14:59: News on the hour

    The top local headlines at 15:00 include:

    • BBC Newcastle: A disabled pensioner who was attacked outside his home in Gateshead says he can't go back there because he doesn't feel safe.
    • BBC Tees: Three men have been arrested in the Durham area following early morning raids targeting suspected drug dealers and burglars.
    14:56: Pardew's Palace sign Ameobi Matthew Raisbeck BBC Newcastle

    Alan Pardew's Crystal Palace have completed the signing of former Newcastle striker Shola Ameobi.

    Ameobi was a free agent after leaving Turkish side Gaziantep in December and has signed a short-term deal until the end of the season. QPR midfielder Jordon Mutch has also joined the Eagles.

    14:46: Man injured in mugging bid

    Hear Alan Barnes' account of being mugged outside his own home in Gateshead. Watch the video on the BBC Newcastle Facebook page here.

    Mr Barnes broke his collar bone when he was attacked by a would-be robber as he put his bins out.

    Alan Barnes

    When Mr Barnes told the man he had no money and then called for help, the robber ran off.

    14:36: A light dusting on the fields
    14:26: Shola 'signs for Pardew at Palace'
    14:20: Air pollution levels examined Jesmond Local

    How clean is the air we breathe in Jesmond? Max Bernhard finds out in our interactive graphic.

    Air quality graphic
    14:10: Carver 'has different ideas' BBC Sport

    John Carver, whose appointment as Newcastle head coach until the end of the season was confirmed earlier this week, believes his side can impress before the end of the season.

    "We've got 16 games left. Why can't we go on a run? I've seen enough to suggest we can," he said in his media conference ahead of Saturday's game against Hull.

    Newcastle head coach John Carver

    "We've had a lot more team meetings and video every training session now. I have one or two different ideas, like anyone would."

    13:59: News on the hour

    The top local headlines at 14:00 include:

    • BBC Newcastle: A disabled pensioner who was attacked outside his home in Gateshead says he can't go back there because he doesn't feel safe.
    • BBC Tees: Police are appealing for help to find a 15-year-old boy who is missing from his home in Lancashire who could be in the Hartlepool area.
    13:51: Give us your views

    What do you think of BBC Local Live? It's written by reporters across the North East and brings you the latest news, sport, travel and weather all in one place. We'd like your feedback about this service.

    13:45: Robber injures vulnerable man The Chronicle Newspaper
    13:34: 'More deaths than expected'

    More people than expected have died at a Teesside hospital trust, latest figures show.

    The North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust is one of nine in England found to have higher than predicted mortality rates last year.

    North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust

    The figures include deaths in hospital, or within 30 days of discharge. North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust medical director, Dr David Emerton, says it is "reviewing the care of all patients who die".

    13:23: Sunderland 'often last on MotD'

    Moving away from snow and weather-related news for a bit - Sunderland matches have been last on BBC One's Match of the Day programme the most so far this season, it's reported.

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    MotD graphic of who comes last

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    13:09: On BBC Look North Colin Briggs BBC Look North

    Snow and ice brought disruption to parts of the North East and Cumbria this morning.

    County Durham was hit and routes in and around Carlisle were gridlocked in what Cumbria's gritting team described as the harshest conditions so far this winter. People were told not to travel unless it was absolutely necessary.

    Snow ploughed from the roads

    But while some suffered with drifts and ice, people in other parts of the region were wondering what all the fuss was about. I'll have more on this story on BBC Look North at 13:30 on BBC One.

    12:58: Your photos: Caught in a drift

    Tracey Laing's dog Taz gets a bit stuck in a snow drift while wanting to go and say hello to the ponies near Rowley, near Consett, County Durham.

    Dog in snow

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    12:49: Cold and breezy Kay Crewdson Weather Presenter, BBC Look North

    Staying cold and breezy this afternoon, with scattered wintry showers, which could be rather heavy at times. Many of the showers will affect the North Pennines and some accumulations are likely. Winds will be quite gusty in the showers.

    Weather forecast

    Maximum temperature: 2C (36F). Check the forecast near you.

    12:37: Snow in Durham Lloyd Watson BBC News

    Here is a snow-covered Durham Cathedral. Temperatures in the area are expected to stay at about 1C (38F) for the rest of the day.

    Durham Cathedral in snow
    12:22: White out on the beach

    There's a light covering of snow on Tynemouth beach as Britain was hit by a week of snow and freezing temperatures as the country's "yo-yo" weather continues.

    Snow in Tynemouth

    You can send your pictures by email to or tweet @BBCNewsNE.

    12:07: Lucky they have built-in jumpers...

    Sheep have to keep their footing on the slippy hills near Barnard Castle. Thanks to the Doe Park Caravan Site for sending us this picture.

    Sheep in Barnard Castle

    You can send your pictures by email to or tweet @BBCNewsNE.

    11:57: Problems over in Cumbria too

    Here's a quick wrap-up of some of the disruption in Cumbria, if you were thinking about heading out west. Snow has closed major roads and a number of schools there.

    The A6 between Kendal and Shap was closed after several vehicles were stranded overnight, with Kirkstone Pass and the A66 between Brough and Bowes also shut. Get the latest travel news here.

    Closed snow gates on the A66, Cumbria

    Traffic through Carlisle has been badly affected with patches of black ice affecting roads. Almost 30 schools across the county were forced to close because of the severe weather.

    11:43: Road reopens Danny Savage North of England Correspondent, BBC News

    The A66 has just reopened eastbound between Brough and Bowes. No sign of anything going west yet.

    11:30: Truck catches fire after skid Lloyd Watson BBC News

    David Parry took this photo of a fruit and vegetable truck getting into trouble in Hunwick, County Durham.

    He said: "The driver got into trouble with the snow and ice, almost reaching the top of the hill, before sliding backwards down it again. Then in trying to drive out of the position he had got stuck in, two tyres set on fire - and the fire then spread to the truck itself."

    Truck on fire in Hunwick, County Durham

    He tells us the driver is fine and the fire was put out by the fire brigade before it reached the petrol tank.

    11:22: A66 reopens

    Durham Police says the A66 is now open in both directions.

    11:11: Snow in Consett Anthony Day BBC Newcastle

    Depending on where you are in the North East this morning, you'll either have lots of snow or just a dusting.

    I've been in Consett in County Durham and I believe this video reflects the situation here.

    Snow in

    You can send your pictures by email to or tweet @BBCNewsNE.

    11:06: Roads still closed by snow

    The A68 High Street is still closed between the B6297 Wolsingham Road junction in Tow Law and the Drover Road junction in Rowley, because of snow.

    The B6275 closed between the A68 junction in Bildershaw and the A67 junction in Piercebridge, because of snow. More on BBC Travel News for Teesside and Tyne and Wear.

    10:58: Your photos: Weardale in snow

    St John's Chapel in Weardale has had its fair share of snow this morning. Sarah Lee sent us this picture of a memorial covered in snow.

    Memorial coveredin snow

    You can send your pictures by email to or tweet @BBCNewsNE.

    10:49: Your photos: dog in snow

    Bella the dog doesn't let a bit of snow get in the way of a morning walk in Tow Law, County Durham.

    We're not sure if David Bartles-Smith, who sent us this picture, agrees or not.

    Dog in snow

    You can send your pictures by email to or tweet @BBCNewsNE.

    10:43: Your photos: Snowy park

    John Chambers took this photo at his local park in South Moor in Stanley, County Durham.

    Snow in Stanley

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    10:34: Foot deep of snow... Anthony Day BBC Newcastle

    I couldn't resist putting my foot in it. It's a good job I brought my wellies with me to work today.

    Snow in Consett
    10:27: Lane closed on A1

    Still some problems on the roads across the North East - One lane is closed and there's queuing traffic on the A1 Western Bypass southbound in Newcastle before the Kenton Bar Roundabout because of an accident involving two cars and recovery work. Congestion is back to Gosforth Park.

    And one lane is closed on the A689 Stockton Road eastbound in Greatham between the Dalton Back Lane junction and the High Street junction because of an accident involving car and lorry.

    Get more on BBC Travel News for Teesside and Tyne and Wear.

    10:17: Your photos: Snowy footsteps

    Tracey Laing sent us this picture of footprints in the snow in Consett, County Durham.

    Snow in Consett

    You can send your pictures by email to or tweet @BBCNewsNE.

    10:10: Redcar Beacon closed due to ice

    Redcar and Cleveland Council tweets: Due to the amount of ice on the stairs and viewing platform, the Beacon is unfortunately closed.

    10:05: Snow on the fields

    Martin tweeted our weather forecaster Kay Crewdson with this photo of Easington in County Durham.

    Easington in the snow
    09:59: Snow starts again on A66

    Durham police tweets: The Big Push to clear the A66 however it's just started to snow again. We'll keep trying to get the road clear

    Gritters on the A66
    09:51: Snow closes runway

    We know some people go from Manchester Airport too, and there's been real problems there - snow has closed the runway and there'll be no flights before 10:30. Our BBC colleagues in the North West have the latest.

    09:48: Some Newcastle flights cancelled

    There's a few delays and cancellations at Newcastle Airport today.

    Arrivals: Flight EZY548 from Belfast was due to land at 09:10 but has been delayed to 10:21, while flight 4U9338 from Dusseldorf has been cancelled.

    Departures: Flight 4U9339 to Dusseldorf has also been cancelled. Get the latest here.

    09:38: Your photos: Town moor

    Jeff Douglas sent us this picture of Newcastle's Town Moor with blue sky being revealed as the morning continues.

    Newcastle's Town Moor

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    09:28: A66 in snow Lloyd Watson BBC News

    Here is how the A66 was looking this morning. Police are advising motorists to take care. Check the forecast near you.

    Snow on A66
    09:23: Preparing for the show... Jonathan Miles BBC Newcastle

    Well I didn't expect to be pelted with snowballs as "preparation" for my show today on BBC Newcastle.

    That's how it was sold to me anyway, I think they just wanted to throw snow at me.

    Jonathan Miles being hit with snow
    09:13: Crash on A1 Gilly Hope BBC Newcastle

    We're getting reports that a car has hit the central reservation at the Angel of the North in Gateshead. We'll have more on this once we have more details.

    09:07: A68 section closed

    The A68 High Street is closed between the B6297 Wolsingham Road junction in Tow Law, County Durham, and the Drover Road junction in Rowley because of snow.

    There's queuing traffic on the A1 southbound between Hexham turn off in Newcastle and Dunston Interchange in Gateshead in the roadworks area. And Northumbria Police says there's been crashes on the A1 Western Bypass around Gosforth with traffic tailbacks - motorists should avoid the area if possible.

    More on BBC Travel News for Teesside and Tyne and Wear.

    09:01: Take care warning after car flips

    Police in Durham say roads are still dangerous and advise motorists to take care. Keep your distance and use your gears to help control your speed.

    Car on its side
    08:50: Amber warning from the Met Office

    The Met Office has an amber warning in place for parts of the north-east of England until 11:00 and a yellow warning elsewhere and for later on.

    It says snow amounts will be very variable but more than 5cm (2in) will accumulate at lower levels in places with over 15cm (5in) on high ground. Strong and gusty winds will lead to drifting and blizzard conditions at times, especially over higher routes.

    There's more information on the Met Office website.

    08:42: Jack-knifed lorries Lloyd Watson BBC News

    Durham Road Policing Unit is tweeting a warning of several jack-knifed HGVs on the A66, which was closed east and west.

    Police car in snow

    They say it's the "less glamorous side of roads policing". We hope they've got a flask of something hot with them.

    08:34: A19 moving all right David Rhodes Politics Reporter, BBC North East and Cumbria

    I've just driven down the A19 from Newcastle to Middlesbrough and the roads were reasonably clear of snow and traffic was moving at the usual rush-hour pace, so hopefully it'll stay like that for the rest of day.

    More on BBC Travel News for Teesside and Tyne and Wear.

    08:24: 'Thundersnow' predicted Sunderland Echo

    People in the region have been warned to brace themselves for 'thundersnow storms', with snowfall up up to 6in predicted tonight.

    Traffic in snow
    08:11: A697 reopens

    The A697 has reopened in both directions between the A698 Main Street junction in Cornhill-on-Tweed and Longhorsley turn off in Espley Hall. It was closed earlier because of snow. More on BBC Travel News for Teesside and Tyne and Wear.

    07:59: News on the hour

    The top local headlines at 08:00 include:

    • BBC Newcastle: Snow has fallen across the North East but depending on where you are you'll have a dumping or a dusting.
    • BBC Tees: New figures suggest North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust is one of the worst performing in the country with more people dying in hospital than expected.
    07:53: Car and lorry block road

    The A689 Stockton Road in Greatham is blocked in both directions between the Dalton Back Lane junction and the High Street junction because of an accident involving a car and lorry.

    One lane is blocked on the A66(M) eastbound between A1(M) J57 Darlington and A66 Bridge Road because of an accident and recovery work.

    The A68 in Corbridge closed to high sided vehicles in both directions. More on BBC Travel News for Teesside and Tyne and Wear.

    07:45: Drifting snow

    Mark Litt has emailed us to say the road from Consett to Tow Law is only passable with a 4x4. He says there's drifting snow and abandoned cars on the route.

    Three tractors are currently clearing the road but Consett's main roads are black, he tells us.

    He also thinks the Weardale main roads are ploughed and passable with plenty of gritters and tractor ploughs out.

    07:34: Scattered wintry showers Kay Crewdson Weather Presenter, BBC Look North

    Staying cold and breezy with scattered wintry showers which could be rather heavy at times. Most of the showers will affect the Dales, North Pennines and Cheviots where some accumulations are likely. Winds will be quite gusty in the showers.

    Kay Crewdson

    Maximum temperature: 2C (36F). You can find a full forecast on the BBC Weather website.

    07:26: School closures

    The headteacher of Wolsingham School and Community College, in County Durham, has called to say the school is closed to all because of snow but is expected to reopen tomorrow.

    Whitfield Primary School and Herdley Bank Primary School, both in Northumberland, are closed today due to snow. They're also hoping to reopen tomorrow but it depends on the weather.

    Parents and students are being advised to check the schools' websites for updates.

    07:21: Snow causing some road problems

    The A697 is closed in both directions between the A698 Main Street junction in Cornhill-on-Tweed and Longhorsley Turn Off in Espley Hall because of snow.

    And the A66 is closed in both directions between the A685 junction in Brough and the A1 Scotch Corner because of snow.

    Take a look at the BBC Travel website for more updates for Tyne and Wear and Tees.

    07:15: Good morning

    Good morning and welcome to Local Live in the North East. We're starting a little earlier this morning to bring you weather and travel updates.

    There have been varying amounts of snow across the region - a dusting in some areas and more substantial quantities elsewhere.

    If you'd like us to feature your comments or pictures, send them to us by email, tweet us @BBCNewsNE or join our Facebook page.



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