CELEBRITY chef John Torode has served up news of a £1m lottery windfall to a healthy eating project for older people.

Age UK County Durham’s Come Eat Together has been named the UK’s Best Health project in the National Lottery Awards.

The MasterChef presenter tried the mince and dumplings at the project's East Stanley dining circle when he visited earlier this summer.

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The Australian-born restaurateur returned yesterday to reveal news of the success in a national vote.

Age UK County Durham’s Come Eat Together project aims to improve older people’s cookery skills and enable them to eat healthy food together by developing dining clubs.

It will receive more than £1m of National Lottery funding.

It received 12,746 votes and was named the 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.

Mr 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.”