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Newcastle College scores a football coup

Newcastle College must have been overjoyed when a PR gift fell into its lap. What better way to get football-crazy Geordies on board than bagging an endorsement from a Newcastle United player?

By recruiting tough-tackling Ivorian midfielder Cheick Tiote, one of the stars of the club's successful Premier League campaign, to take its foundation English language course, the college pulled off a signing just as impressive in its way as any of the deals struck by United's manager Alan Pardew.

And Tiote, it seems, was happy to play along. "I'm really pleased to have passed and am much more confident about my English as a result," he told the Newcastle Evening Chronicle. "I just need to work on my Geordie now."

Maybe not. When the Newcastle College Group ditched the name of its home town and rebranded itself NCG, it prompted angry accusations of "deGeordification" from the University and College Union. FErret suspects that it might be safer for Tiote to stick to the Queen's English.

Olympic torch shines a light on posterity

Another heart-warming tale arrived from the North-East last week: 81-year-old Bob Hullah, a former automobile engineering lecturer at Gateshead Technical College (now Gateshead College), got to witness the Olympic torch pass his garden in South Shields.

The moment was even more poignant because Mr Hullah helped to transport the torch to the UK when the competition was last held in London, back in 1948.

On that occasion, he was a 17-year-old seaman serving on HMS Bicester, and he was allowed to hold the torch during its journey across the channel.

"I was just a kid back in 1948, and I didn't think all that much about it at the time," he told The Shields Gazette. "It was only three years after the war had ended, and it was a time of austerity and rationing. They were known as the austerity games."

Some things, it seems, never change.

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