A FESTIVE appeal which collected 29 tonnes of food and toys for those in need last year has been launched again.

When professional harness racer Watson Harrop donated a trolley loaded with groceries and treats to a supermarket’s foodbank campaign he had no idea how many people he would inspire.

Mr Harrop, from Bishop Auckland, shared a video of himself shopping in the town’s Tesco Extra store on social media and nominated friends to do the same.

Friends then nominated friends, all using the hashtag FoodbankNomination, and within weeks the plea had gone worldwide.

By Christmas, the Bishop Auckland store had collected enough food to make about 45,000 meals and piles of toys.

The donated items were passed on to charities, churches, foodbanks and care homes across south Durham and Darlington to distribute to families and individuals who needed and appreciated the support at a time of year when making ends meet can be particularly challenging.

Mr Harrop, who is married with a 15-month-old daughter, said: “I couldn’t get over it, it went worldwide. I nominated friends, some I have through harness racing, and they nominated friends, family and partners and it just spread. I know it reached Canada, the USA, Sweden and France– all just people who wanted to help.

“Some foodbanks ran out of space to store what we donated but there is a need for it, so many people need the help and I just wanted to help people in this community.

“Christmas is about tradition, it would be great if we can make this a tradition.

“If we can achieve a quarter of what we managed last year, we will be able to help a lot of people.”

The 31-year-old was back at the supermarket this week to launch the 2019 campaign, which will use #FoodbankNomination2019 on social media.

John Bailey, community champion at Tesco in St Helen Auckland, said: “Everyone got really behind it last year and we were pleased with the support and the impact it had. I did about 500 miles delivering donations and we’re excited to be doing it again.”