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Masterchef Serves Up Surprise For Co Durham Charity

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TV star and celebrity chef John Torode returned to the North East today to surprise staff and volunteers at Come Eat Together with the news that they have been named the UK’s Best Health project in the National Lottery Awards.

The MasterChef presenter tucked into mince and dumplings with local older people when he visited the Co Durham-based project earlier this summer.  Today, the Australian-born restaurateur returned to Come Eat Together’s East Stanley dining circle to serve up news of their success.

Age UK County Durham’s Come Eat Together project aims to improve older people’s ability to cook and enjoy healthy food together by developing new lunch clubs and dining circles. It received more than £1 million of National Lottery funding via the Big Lottery Fund.

It recorded an impressive 12,746 votes to be named UK’s Best Health Project in the annual search to find the nation’s favourite National Lottery funded projects – more than any of the winners in the other categories. 

John Torode said: “Come Eat Together is such a brilliant project.  It provides good food and great company for older people.  I know from experience, the food is delicious and the project is making such a difference to older people by tackling loneliness and isolation.  Age UK County Durham thoroughly deserve this National Lottery Award and I would like to congratulate everyone involved in the project.”

Harriet Gibbon, chief executive of Age UK Co Durham, said: “This is fantastic news. We are very grateful to everyone who voted for us – to know this award was decided by the public and so many people voted for us makes winning this award particularly special.
“Our Come Eat Together project aims to bring older people together with food to combat loneliness and social isolation while raising the awareness of the importance of eating well in older age and promoting good health.
“Winning this award will help us to publicise this important work. We are extremely grateful to National Lottery players whose support helps to make the Come Eat Together project possible.”
Jackie O’ Sullivan, from the National Lottery, added: “It is fantastic to see the tremendous work of everyone at Come Eat Together rewarded with a National Lottery Award.  The sheer number of people voting for them demonstrates the project’s real and meaningful impact on the lives of older people.  National Lottery players can be proud to have helped support and sustain such a brilliant project which clearly does so much good work in its community.”

Come Eat Together will feature on a special star-studded ceremony broadcast on BBC One on 19 September.  They will also receive a £2,000 cash prize in addition to a coveted National Lottery Awards trophy.  

More about Come Eat Together:
Come Eat Together is  a volunteer peer support project which aims to improve older people’s ability to access, cook and enjoy healthy food together, helping them to be more resilient and better able to cope with life stage changes such as retirement, bereavement or ill health.

The project works in a number of ways to promote the benefits of a healthy diet for older people including developing new Lunch Clubs and Dining Circles where older people can come together and take turns to cook for one another in their own homes. The project has an intergenerational element and provides lots of opportunities for older people to share their skills with others, including young people who are keen to learn as well as help.

Come Eat Together increases awareness of healthy food by sharing new ideas and recipes to tempt the taste buds. The project constantly explores different ways to help older people shop for healthy food and other ingredients.

More about the Awards:
National Lottery players raise over £33 million a week and that money goes to support people and projects across the UK.  The Awards are a great way to show National Lottery players where their funding has gone and the life-changing difference playing the Lottery every week is making to communities across the UK. 

There are seven categories in the Awards, reflecting the main areas of Lottery funding: arts, education, environment, health, heritage, sport, and voluntary/charity.  

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Notes to the editor

For more information contact Michael Thompson on 07734 295745 or email Michael.thompson@lotterygoodcauses.org.uk

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