A CATERING team are celebrating after winning a national award within their first year of business.

Last year, Dorothy Macdonald took over the running of Darlington Farmer's Auction Mart (DFAM) cafe bringing along her catering experience and home-cooked food.

Following a surprise nomination from a member of the public, the cafe discovered they had been shortlisted as a finalist for Farmer's Guardian Mart's the Heart Awards 2019 under the category of Auction Cafe of the Year.

In August, Mrs Macdonald and her team were told they had came top.

They will be presented with the accolade at an awards ceremony in October.

Mrs Macdonald, who comes from a farming family and ran her own catering business, said she was delighted the team had been chosen for the award.

She said: "This cafe is a hub in the farming community. Everyone comes in to have a chat, enjoy some food, a coffee or a cake, or just catch up with old friends.

"We all work hard together as a team and we are so pleased that we won. To even be shortlisted was enough for us, that was an achievement in itself.

"Last year I was asked to come here to take over and this has all happened within 11 months.

"It just feels like I’m coming back home to the farming community and the amount of support we have had just makes it all worthwhile."

In the new year, DFAM will move into its new site off the A68 at Humbleton Farm, at Burtree Gate, near Heighington.

The site will include space for 1,000 cattle and 3,000 sheep.

Eleven business units will also be available for hire, and the building will include a brand new auction mart cafe.

Mrs Macdonald added the move will give the team an opportunity to continue the service that won them this award.

She said: "Next year we go to a new mart, which we are very excited about.

"We're looking forward to carrying on what we have done here with the aim of extending our opening hours to five days a week."

Mrs Macdonald and the team will be setting off to the NEC in Birmingham next month to collect their award.