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  1. Sunderland student lands lead role in a movie

    A former University of Sunderland student has landed two roles in film and TV.

    Chris Farfouris, who was studying screen performance, auditioned for a key character role in a new television drama set in Spain and landed the lead role in a new film calls Shakespeare has Died, which will start production later this year in South America.

    The 20-year-old, who is originally from Greece, credits part of his success to the skills he gained on Wearside during his Screen Performance degree.

    He also thanked his tutors for allowing him to complete his course work online while filming in Spain.

    Sunderland University student Chris Farfouris

    Chris said: "My tutors have been incredibly supportive during this huge opportunity, and for me, online learning has been fantastic, I was able to be really creative."

    Being a multilingual actor and artist, Chris speaks Greek, English, Spanish, French and Italian and he sings and plays piano.

  2. Free rapid Covid testing for workers in North Tyneside

    North Tyneside Council has urged people who can't work from home to take part in its rapid community testing programme to tackle the spread of the Covid-19.

    It's designed to provide results within an hour and is for workers who could have the virus - without showing symptoms, to stop them passing it onto others.

    The council said residents such as taxi drivers, tradespeople, social workers and nursery staff are eligible to free tests at Riverside Children’s Centre, North Shields from Monday 18 January.

    It's also available to people who are a close contact of someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable to the virus.

    Rapid testing

    Wendy Burke, North Tyneside's public health director said: "Up to a third of people with Covid-19 may not display symptoms but are still infectious and can spread the virus.

    "We need to break the chains of transmission, so we can reduce infection rates, look after our loved ones and protect the NHS,"

    The council said the testing site will be opened seven days a week and appointments can be booked online.

  3. Ice warning as freezing conditions cause travel problems

    Ice has been causing problems across the North East after temperatures dipped to well below zero overnight.

    Police have been dealing with multiple accidents caused by black ice on the Coast Road in North Tyneside.

    The road was closed in both directions and, although it's since reopened eastbound, remains closed westbound. Police say many routes are extremely icy so travelers are being urged to drive slowly.

    Temperatures reportedly dropped to -6C in parts of Northumberland.

    There's a weather warning in place until 10:00 followed by another weather warning for snow and ice tomorrow.

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  4. Woman dies after crash in Guisborough

    A woman in her eighties has died after the car she was travelling in hit a tree in Guisborough.

    It happened on Wednesday at 16:40 at the junction of The Avenue and Stokesley Road, when the car, a Peugeot 307 which was being driven by a man in his eighties, left the road.

    They were both taken to James Cook University Hospital with multiple injuries, but the woman later died.

    Officers from the Cleveland and Durham Specialist Operations Unit are appealing for anyone who may have seen what happened to contact them.

    Scene of accident on Stokesley Road
  5. Durham hospital patients pass wave one peak

    Covid patient numbers at the University Hospital of North Durham are exceeding the first peak of the pandemic, its medical director says

    Jeremy Cundall (pictured), from the County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, said: "We're running at just about 200 cases in the trust compared to the peak of wave one which was 150.

    "We do have a lot of Covid wards open across the organisation but as you'd expect we've had 200 patients, so that works out at eight to nine ward occupants."

    Jeremy Cundall

    The situation means additional stress on other hospital departments, with the trust having to stand down some elective surgeries, so nursing staff can be released to other areas, although cancer treatments are continuing.

    Mr Cundall is urging people to follow the rules and save lives.

    He said: "The people who don't believe it's serious now are never going to believe it's serious and frankly anything I say to them will go in one ear and out the other.

    "From my point of view I would be appealing to the vast majority of people who do understand this is a real problem to say to them - follow the rules and that will be the way, with the vaccination, that we get out of this situation.

    "And everyone else who doesn't get it, they're never going to get it."

  6. Thieves break into BMW garage twice in same day

    Five people have been arrested after they broke into a BMW garage twice on the same morning.

    Northumbria Police said it was alerted that intruders had broken into the garage on Boldon Business Park in South Tyneside at about 02:15 and 07:45 on Sunday.

    Police said wheels were taken by two people in the first raid, and a car was stolen from the showroom in the second break in.

    Stolen car

    The stolen vehicle was abandoned after the suspects crashed it through a fence and got stuck on a dirt track not far from the garage.

    Police said two women were arrested on suspicion of burglary. The suspected stolen tyres were also located inside the vehicle.

    A third suspect who fled in another car was also arrested with suspected stolen tyres in Oswald Terrace South in Sunderland. Another man and a woman have also been arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender.

  7. Covid marshals assist hundreds

    Local Democracy Reporting Service

    Herbert Soden

    Covid marshals in North Tyneside have spoken to more than 2,000 people since they started work two months ago.

    The team was set up to help and provide advice to people during the pandemic about social-distancing, masks and guidelines but they have also been involved with a wide range of other queries.

    They do not have enforcement powers and their role is to “engage, encourage and explain” the latest rules and public health advice to residents, businesses and visitors and work closely with police and other partners.

    With a new lockdown under way they are providing advice on the latest restrictions and patrolling areas where there may be heavier footfall.

    North Tyneside mayor Mayor Norma Redfearn said: “Our marshals have been carrying out a really important role over the past couple of months out and about around the borough where the need has been greatest.

    “With another national lockdown now in place their presence continues to be vital in ensuring people stay home to help limit the spread of this terrible virus and protect lives.”

    North Tyneside Council’s team of Covid marshals
  8. Middlesbrough youngster in remission after rare tumour removed

    An eleven-year-old girl whose parents were told she'd have a 50/50 chance of surviving surgery, has successfully had a rare tumour removed.

    Ruby Wilson from Middlesbrough was diagnosed with a rare cancer called mesenchymal chondrosarcoma in February 2020.

    The tumour, which started at her ribs, extended through the right side of her chest, covered her spine and compressed her heart.

    Ruby and mum Sarah

    Quentin Campbell Hewson, consultant oncologist at the Great North Children’s Hospital in Newcastle and Ruby’s oncologist said: "We knew that not removing the tumour would mean that Ruby would not survive.

    "However, we also knew how difficult the surgical removal would be and that there was a likelihood that Ruby would not survive, or the operation would result in severe complication.

    “Decisions like these are never taken lightly and the decision to proceed to the surgical procedures was taken in a very considered and balanced way involving the entire treating team, the family and national and international colleagues."

    Ruby has completed her chemotherapy and is now remission.

  9. Northumbria Police issue largest number of Covid fines

    Police in England and Wales have handed out more than 32,000 fines for breaches of Covid-19 regulations.

    Figures published by the National Police Chiefs Council shows a total of 32,329 fixed penalty notices between 27 March and 21 December last year.

    Northumbria Police issued 3,034, the highest number in England - Greater Manchester came second with 2,183.

    In comparison the Cleveland and Durham forces issued 313 and 253 respectively.

    Social distancing signs in Newcastle

    Northumbria Police would not give any breakdown or details as to when or why the fines were issued.

    However, Assistant Chief Constable Scott Hall said: "Throughout the pandemic, officers have been engaging with communities, explaining the regulations which are in place, encouraging people to follow them – and where necessary taking enforcement action.

    "We will continue to speak to people about the restrictions and offer advice to those who have mistakenly broken them.

    "However, as we have previously made clear, we won’t waste time with endless encouragement for people who knowingly break the rules, undermine the efforts of others and ultimately endanger lives - they should expect to receive enforcement action.

    "Throughout this pandemic the majority of people have done the right thing, and for that we are grateful."

  10. Covid: North East leaders urge people to stay at home

    The leaders of seven North East councils are urging people to stay at home to bring soaring infection rates down.

    A statement has been issued by the leaders of Durham county, Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Sunderland councils along with the North of Tyne mayor and Northumbria's police and crime commissioner.

    They say: “The prime minister has rightly imposed a national lockdown in England, meaning we must all now stay at home except for essential reasons.

    “We know this will come as a disappointment to our communities who have already given so much during the pandemic, but it was a step the Government simply had to take."

    They say staying home is key to saving lives, protecting the NHS and preventing hospitals from being overwhelmed.

    Man wearing mask
    Quote Message: The regulations are clear. Stay at home unless it is absolutely necessary to do so.
    Quote Message: This is key if we are to prevent countless more deaths while the vaccination programme continues in earnest." from North East Combined Authority leaders
    North East Combined Authority leaders