A PUB which delivered more than 10,000 free meals to people during lockdown is in the running for a national "hero" award.

Simon and Rachel Leadbitter, who run The Mowden, in Darlington, became lockdown heroes after raising more than £9,500 to help elderly and vulnerable people, which enabled them to cook and deliver more than 10,200 meals.

Their hard work has now earned them a spot on the shortlist of the Ei Publican Partnerships Pub Hero of the Year category at the The Great British Pub Awards.

After closing in March, the couple initially looked at offering takeaway food, but after a two-day trial decided to provide free hot meals to people who needed them, using surplus food stock from the pub.

In the first week of lockdown they delivered 40 meals and word started spreading, leading them to feature in the Northern Echo in April.

Mr Leadbitter said: “It was at this point, the local press caught wind of what we were doing, and they ran a story on us. After this, our phone did not stop ringing and social media went crazy, our list of regular deliveries grew and grew.

"The project snowballed and we opened up a JustGiving page where people could donate to help us buy ingredients to keep things going.”

In total, they prepared and delivered more than 900 meals a week, with the help of local volunteers and were even mentioned in the House of Commons by MP Peter Gibson.

They were approached by the local Councillor Pauline Culley who helped spread the word of their initiative, meaning they were able to support a wider group of vulnerable people.

Mr Leadbitter added: “A personal highlight for us came when our local MP, Peter Gibson, mentioned us by name in a speech he gave in the House of Commons thanking those that had helped others during lockdown. We know need our customers to support us by voting on the link below. Vote Mowden!”

To vote, visit www.greatbritishpubawards.co.uk/vote/.