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  1. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in all my years of Sunday pub roast-guzzling, it’s that a beautiful exterior is no indicator of the quality of grub that lies within. The General Havelock is a boozer that reminded me not to judge too much on appearances; the place might not please the eye, but its Sunday dinners certainly please the stomach. The pub has neither a spectacular location, situated as it is close to the A189 Spine Road near Blyth, nor, it has to be said, a well-kept air, with its peeling paintwork on the windows, rather battered furniture and visible mould in one corner of its restaurant. A slight smoky haze, presumably from the kitchen, pervaded both the pub and restaurant section, and I even discovered the lock in the cubicle in the gents’ toilets wasn’t working. However, if you don’t mind your pubs being a bit rough around the edges, the General Havelock’s food will more than make up for what it lacks in the way of refinement. You’ll have to be happy to launch straight into your roast, as there are no starters served – and no other choice of main course. A standard-size pork, chicken or beef meal is £7, or you can opt for a small one for £6. Choosing lamb adds £1 to the bill. I was unsurprised when Mrs E ordered beef, having noticed that particularly wanton look that she gets in her eyes when she hasn’t had any of the stuff for a while. I, on the other hand, struggled to make a decision, so appreciated being offered the option of a bit of all the meats by our friendly server.
  2. Teenager Bethany Fisher died after Jordan O'Donnell crashed his car on a residential street in Bedlington
  3. Two North East roads have been ranked among the most dangerous in Britain, a new interactive map reveals. Research conducted by Regtransfers.co.uk shows the routes across the country where you are most likely to be involved in an accident. It found the A193, which runs between Newcastle and Bedlington, had an accident rate of 2.53 per 1 million vehicle-miles driven. And the A68, which links Northumberland and Edinburgh, made the country’s top 50 accident blackspots with a rate of 2.7. These contrast with the average accident rate of 1.48 for the UK. The data, compiled by the private number plate company, also found 13 of the most dangerous roads in Britain all run through London.
  4. A drink driver was caught out when police pulled him over for having a frozen windscreen. Dean Williamson was travelling along Front Street, in Bedlington, on Boxing Day when a passing officer noticed his front window was iced over. The 28-year-old was initially stopped and told to scrape the windscreen clear but he went on to ignore the warning and carried on driving his Ford Focus, a court heard. The same officer then pulled Williamson over again but noticed he was “swaying and stumbling” when he was ordered to get out of the vehicle. He then failed a roadside breath test and was arrested. Williamson, of Lily Avenue, Bedlington, has now been banned from the roads for three years after he pleaded guilty to drink driving at South East Northumberland Magistrates’ Court.
  5. A bungling thief was snared when he left behind his DNA in the McDonald’s restaurant he burgled for just £3-worth of food. Kane Bircahll smashed a window of the Cowpen Road branch of the fast food giant, in Blyth, and sneaked in during the middle of the night while the premises was closed. The 28-year-old then made-off with £3-worth of food items, South East Northumberland Magistrates’ Court was told. But, not only was hapless Birchall caught in the act on CCTV, he also left behind his own blood and was further identified from his DNA. Now, Birchall, of Burdon Terrace, Bedlington, has been warned he is facing the possibility of time behind bars after pleading guilty to one count of burglary. Adjourning the case for the preparation of a Pre-Sentence Report, District Judge Bernard Begley told him: “This is simply an adjournment so the court can be aware fully of everything about you.
  6. Fancy a burger with haggis and whisky sauce? Wetherspoons is launching a special menu to mark Burns Night and it includes a quirky take on the traditional fare. While haggis is always the star of the show when it comes to celebrations of Scotland’s national poet, the pub company has decided to go one better. Burgers tend to be a universal favourite so it has come up with one which will have a uniquely Scottish flavour. Soon North East customers will be able to tuck into a Highland Burger, which contains haggis and comes with a sauce made with that favourite Scottish tipple, whisky. The 6oz burger will be served with chips and six beer-battered onion rings too - and, as an added treat, diners can try a special Robert Burns ale, from Scotland’s oldest working brewery, to go with it. These will be on the menu in Newcastle from Saturday at The Quayside bar and The Mile Castle - as well as in other Wetherspoons pubs around the region - as part of week-long celebrations to mark the life and poetry of the Scottish poet.
  7. Despicable thief Michael Daley left a pensioner feeling “violated” after sneaking into her home and stealing from her in a disgraceful abuse of trust. Daley took advantage of the fact he had family members living at the same assisted living complex as the victim. A court heard he let himself into the flat in Bedlington, Northumberland, and stole £200 from her handbag to pay off drug debts. The victim, who lives with her husband, was left feeling vulnerable and insecure and has since installed a security camera for peace of mind. Now Daley, 22, who admitted burglary, has been given a suspended prison sentence at Newcastle Crown Court. Recorder Jonathan Sandiford told him: “This was a sneak-in burglary at a home that, as you well knew, was assisted living for older people, designed to allow them to live independently as far as possible and to give them a degree of security.
  8. Lucy Huddleston can still pursue her dancing dreams after having spinal surgery in Germany
  9. We challenged Northumbria University fashion students to capture the most stylish trend-setters on the streets of Newcastle. They were tasked with picking a fashionable style to focus on. Fashion communication student Emily Wilkinson decided to photograph people wearing scarves from designer to vintage in the city centre. Emily said: “I wanted to focus on how people use accessories to dress up an outfit - visual style combined with functionality and comfort.” Administrator Rebecca Cowan 18, of Whitley Bay , wore a scarf from Burberry, jacket from Missguided, a dress from Sainsbury’s and shoes from New Look . Emily said: “Rebecca used her scarf to dress up her colour-block outfit.” Student Caitlin Waddle, 19, of Bedlington , wore a scarf from ASOS , jacket from Topshop and leggings from Adidas.
  10. Below is a list of this week's school news from Newcastle and the North East - written by you. To get your school event or story included, simply fill out the form below, which is also at www.chroniclelive.co.uk/schoolnews Students created their own American-style diner serving up burgers and cheesecake amongst a three-course gastronomic delight for family and friends as part of their GCSE studies. The 16 hospitality students at Academy 360 in Sunderland planned the menu, prepared and cooked all the food, served guests and even designed the table decorations with Hollywood star-themed place mats, under the guidance of food technology teacher Jo Tissington. Their tasty US-influenced menu whetted diners’ appetites with starters, mains and puddings including chicken goujons, burgers, chilli con carne, cheesecake and coffee. Doubts and assumptions were put to one side as friendships were formed between the generations at an inspiring project held in Lanchester, County Durham . Karbon Homes’ Ageless Project brings together young and old people to increase understanding between the generations.
  11. This round-up of Chriistmas shows - mainly traditional nativities - is super cute and covers schools from Walker to Washington, Gosforth to Gateshead and beyond. The video shows children aged five to seven at Delves Lane Primary School in Consett who performed Christmas songs in five languages to parents. Tutor Rachel Prior of Lingotot held a weekly after school club for the children for just 10 weeks. She said: "I am incredibly proud of my Lingotots." The gallery below shows some wonderful cheeky grins and faces of Christmas concentration as well as great group photos of the whole cast in these photographs submitted by schools. So much work has gone into the productions, including costumes and stage sets as well as all making time for all those essential rehearsals. And it is all very much appreciated, creating fabulous memories for participants big and small, as well as their friends and families, in the years to come. Don't miss the Chronicle's special Christmas Stars print supplement featuring as many photographs as we can from all the schools who took part, on Wednesday, December 20. The schools included here are: Adderlane Academy, Prudhoe; Appletree Gardens First School, Whitley Bay; Barmston Village Primary School, Washington; Beaconhill Primary School, Cramlington; Bedlington Station Primary School, Bedlington; Beech Hill Primary School, Walbottle; Bridgewater Community Primary School, Benwell, Newcastle; Burnhope Primary School, County Durham; Busy Bees, Durham.
  12. This year saw the timely launch of a brand new purpose-built construction training centre to serve the next generation of construction professionals here in the North East. Trainbase, located in South Northumberland, was officially opened in April by MP for Wansbeck Ian Lavery and over the past nine months, has gone from strength to strength with the expansion of both its staff and range of courses. At a time when the construction industry is facing a major skills shortage, Trainbase is dedicated to delivering the highest quality standards in construction training to help meet the needs of local individuals and businesses who require accredited training and testing, delivered in a professional learning environment. The centre is situated on a 20-acre site at Burnt House Farm in Bedlington, which incorporates a 15-acre all-weather, free-draining digging area. The facility also comprises a large outdoor training area, as well as office accommodation with training, testing and conference rooms. Plans are also under way to add an indoor roller and street works area by January 2018. Using a selection of new, modern machinery, Trainbase provides accredited training and testing across multiple awarding bodies, including an extensive range of CPCS (Construction Plant Competence Scheme) and NPORS (National Plant Operators Registration Scheme) categories, short courses, street works and Level 2 Plant NVQ’s, as well as bespoke courses.
  13. Darts legend Phil Taylor has dubbed North East star Chris Dobey the ‘future of darts’, after winning past him in the first round of the 2018 World Championship. Bedlington’s Dobey bowed out at the first hurdle on Friday evening, despite a valiant comeback against the 16-time World Champion. Having fallen 2-0 behind in sets, Dobey fired back to win the third set and missed two darts at double 16 to force a final set, as he succumbed to a 3-1 defeat to ‘The Power’. Nonetheless, Taylor - who is retiring after the competition - was left mightily impressed by Dobey, admitting his relief after seeing off the talented youngster. “There was a lot of pressure on me,” Taylor told PDC TV after the game. “But to get past Chris Dobey. When they keep talking about the future of darts, that is your fella, I think.
  14. Phil Taylor believes Bedlington darts ace Chris Dobey poses a ‘big challenge’ ahead of their meeting in the first round of the World Championships this evening. The 16-time World Champion will retire from professional darts after this year’s tournament, ending 30 years at the top of the sport. Bowing out by winning a 17th World title would be the fairytale ending for the greatest player of all time, but the 57-year-old is under no illusions about the threat the north-east star poses. “It will be a big challenge for me,” Taylor told the PDC’s official website. “Chris has made massive strides in the last couple of years and is wanting to make his mark, but I can go up there relaxed because I’ve nothing to lose. “It’s my final World Championship and I want to enjoy it.”
  15. Bedlington darts ace Chris Dobey admits it is a ‘big thing’ to be playing Phil Taylor in a World Championship but is motivated by the prospect of being ‘The Power’s’ final ever professional opponent. Taylor, who has been crowned World Champion an incredible 16 times, will retire after this month’s World Championship, bringing the curtain down on a career that has spanned over 30 years. ‘The Power’ has won over 80 TV major titles during his illustrious career and won his first World title 27 years ago - four-and-half months before Dobey was born. The pair meet for the first time on a televised stage this evening, and while Dobey is excited to play a ‘legend of the game’, he is determined to make a name for himself and become the final man to beat the most decorated player of all time. “I was happy with the draw,” Dobey told ChronicleLive. “I knew it was always going to be a tough one but with it being Phil’s last year, it’s nice to say you have played Phil in a World Championship.
  16. The 25th edition of the PDC World Championships rolls into town on Thursday, as darts fans are treated to 18 days of pure tungsten theatre. 72 players will compete for the famous ‘Sid Waddell Trophy’ - named after the Geordie darts commentator who helped transform the game into the global brand it is today. Michael van Gerwen became a two-time World Champion last year as he beat Gary Anderson in an exhilarating final, and he arrives at the Alexandra Palace in London, as the overwhelming favourite for a third world title. He opens the show this evening against 2012 BDO World Champion Christian Kist, who has struggled badly through injury this year, and is unlikely to prove too much of a hurdle in MVG’s pursuit of the £400,000 first prize. Emerging stars Mensur Suljovic and Daryl Gurney will be confident of success after winning major titles in 2017, while the rise of debutant Rob Cross this year has seen him competing at the latter-end of major tournaments. All three players are in van Gerwen’s half of the draw, however, as is five-time World Champion Raymond van Barneveld - who famously knocked van Gerwen out in 2015.
  17. The 25th edition of the PDC World Championships rolls into town on Thursday, as darts fans are treated to 18 days of pure tungsten theatre. Michael van Gerwen became a two-time World Champion last year as he beat Gary Anderson in an exhilarating final, and he arrives at the Alexandra Palace in London, gunning for a third world title. Anderson, a two-time World Champion himself, and number two seed Peter Wright are likely to be riding on van Gerwen’s coat-tails as this year’ competition promises to be the most exciting yet. Retiring darts legend Phil Taylor looking forward to Newcastle swansong in the Premier League 16-time World Champion Phil Taylor will call time on his illustrious career after this year’s tournament and he will be keen to sign off with a 17th triumph on the world stage. However, we have a vested interest of our own in Taylor’s progress, as he takes on Bedlington star Chris Dobey in the first round.
  18. We asked readers to share a photograph of their Christmas tree - and what a fabulous display there is to see! Over 800 readers showed off their Christmas pride and joy - and then voted for their favourite trees from those posted on the Newcastle Chronicle Facebook page. And here are are top 20. Thanks to all who shared some Christmas joy - from huge, blazing beauties to treasured family heirlooms. As you can see, there is a huge range of trees, with fibre-optics or handmade decorations and unusual colour schemes. And there are lots of ideas for dressing your own tree if yours has yet to go up. This article features the favourites from our Facebook page by 9am on Thursday - but we will feature more later this week in further galleries, so do look out for them! 1. Seb Howarth in Whitley Bay topped our poll with 262 reactions to his wonderful, traditional-style tree, glowing with hundreds of tiny lights and topped by a little Christmas fairy. He said: "This is our first Christmas in our new home." Congratulations on a marvellous tree! 2. Steph Craig's Newcastle tree was very popular too, with 206 reactions - a huge vote from those who love the stylish bright, white look at Christmastime. The big bows are a fashionable addition which those who haven't got their tree dressed yet might like to imitate.
  19. What’s in a name? Apparently Forest, Hawk, Hunter, Fox, Storm, Hallie, Aurora, Skye, River, Rowan and Raven were just some of the unusual monikers given to babies born in the UK this year. The Chronicle revealed the findings of the website Babycentre earlier this week. It’s not only modern parents who gave their offspring left-of-centre names, however. A trawl through the census returns and birth, marriage and death records of the late 19th and early 20th centuries reveals some truly odd names (some of which are unprintable in a family publication). The following are all genuine names of people who lived in the North East.
  20. A pub raider who stole thousands of pounds when he targeted five bars and social clubs across Tyneside and Northumberland is facing jail. Serial thief John Cook broke into the licensed premises between June and November and usually smashed up fruit machines to pocket the cash inside. A court was told the bungling 39-year-old was snared on each occasion by either leaving an item of clothing or blood at the scene or setting off an intruder alarm. On his final break-in, at the Lochside pub, in High Heaton, Newcastle, he made off when was confronted by the owners but later tracked down by a police dog. Now, Cook, who said he was of no fixed abode but is formerly from Coach Road, in Wallsend, is facing a lengthy prison sentence after he pleaded guilty to four counts of burglary and was found guilty after a trial in his absence of a fifth count. He also admitted a separate charge of theft during a hearing at South East Northumberland Magistrates’ Court.
  21. If you’re a landlord looking for a project then this two-bed flat in Bedlington could be for you. It’s going under the hammer next month with bidding set to start at £14,000. Situated in Liddle’s Street, the ground-flood flat is just yards away from the ‘Good’ Ofsted rated Bedlington Primary School. There are regular bus links to Newcastle, which is 25 minutes away by car, while Bedlington’s town centre is around half-an-hour’s walk away, or 10-15 minutes on a bus. There are local shops, including a Boots pharmacy and Premier convenience store on Ravensworth Street, which runs parallel to Liddle’s Street. But there is a reason the price starts so low: the property is in need of a “full refurbishment,” as the pictures show. Estate agent Rook Matthews Sayer says it is a “must view” for anybody interested, and it looks like taking a thorough look around is a good idea before putting in a bid at the auction house. In the estate agent’s words, “this ground floor flat would make a great purchase for those looking for a project”. Inside there’s an entrance hall, kitchen area, lounge, bathroom and two-bedrooms. There is a shared yard to the back and a garden in the front.
  22. Newcastle firms JDDK Architects and Fairhurst Consulting Engineers have formed a new partnership that will design and build cutting edge cancer treatment centres across the country. The new partnership is called DFJ Designs and also includes Manchester building consultants Dresco. It will work exclusively on the development of three proton beam therapy centres, which are used to treat cancer, including one in Northumberland. The oncology centres are being brought to the UK by Proton Partners International, and will be built in Reading, Liverpool and at the Earth Balance centre near Bedlington, Northumberland. Each cancer centre will offer proton beam therapy as well as conventional treatments such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy, diagnostics, imaging, and wellbeing services. Kevin Turnbull, director of JDDK Architects, said: “We are delighted to have been appointed on a long-term strategic partnership contract for Proton Partners International and to have now been confirmed as the incumbent team to deliver all future centres for the company across the UK.” DFJ Designs was launched at JDDK’s 30th anniversary celebrations. The partnership has already collaborated on two of the projects at Northumberland and Reading, while the Liverpool project is set to start in January.
  23. This round-up of events is written by readers. To get your charity event or story included, simply fill out the form at www.chroniclelive.co.uk/charitynews New resource funded by £25k from Morrisons Foundation A brand new technology training room for foster carers and adopters to learn the skills they need to safeguard the children in their care has been opened by leading UK children’s charity Barnardo’s. The room is based in the North East Fostering and Adoption office, in Lumley Court in Chester-le-Street . The equipment and training will allow foster carers and adopters to work with confidence around social media applications and websites, such as Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram. It will help Barnardo’s staff demonstrate the risks and issues around the internet effectively and get the safeguarding message across to some of the most vulnerable young people in the North East. Alison Rowland, Assistant Head of Business Family Placement East, said: “It is great to have this resource available to spread this vital message. All children can be at risk of sexual exploitation when going online and interacting with strangers, even if they have a supportive home environment. What can start as an innocent and harmless chat with a ‘friend’, can very quickly develop into a dangerous relationship with devastating consequences. “That’s why it’s crucial carers can make the children they foster or adopt aware of the dangers online and explain how to keep themselves safe. I’d like to thank the Morrisons Foundation for supporting us to help us keep some very vulnerable young people safe online.”
  24. An MP is calling on the Government to fit all new and refurbished schools with sprinklers after four classrooms were destroyed in a suspected arson attack. A fire broke out at St Benet Biscop Catholic Academy in Bedlington, Northumberland, on October 26, causing “substantial damage” to one classroom. Teachers said the blaze spread and damaged three other classrooms at the school, which is not fitted with sprinklers. Northumbria Police has launched an investigation into the incident and believe the fire may have been started deliberately. Now, Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery has written to Amber Rudd MP, Justine Greening MP and Alok Sharma MP demanding sprinklers are installed in all schools. In the letter, Mr Lavery said: “Many local people have been in touch regarding the provision of sprinkler systems, appalled that their presence is not mandatory either in new build or existing schools.
  25. Drivers are being advised ahead of a series of road closures throughout the North East on Remembrance Sunday. Thousands throughout the region will join together at a host of events to pay tribute to our fallen soldiers. ChronicleLive is compiling a gallery of photographs to show services and remembrance events across the North East, so please send a photograph to yourpictures@chroniclelive.co.uk telling us when and where you were. And if you’re planning on travelling by car on the morning of Remembrance Sunday, here is a list of the road closures that will temporarily be in place: Alnwick 3.15pm to 4pm - Percy Street, Green Batt, Hotspur Street. Bondgate Without, Bondgate Within, Fenkle Street
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