A DARLINGTON pub has come out on top in a national awards challenge.

The Springfield has been crowned in the finals of an event to recognise the industry's top performers.

The pub beat off stiff competition from across the country in this year's Pathfinder Pubs Retail Awards.

Managers Ray and Lesley Swales have picked up the Newcomer of the Year title.

"We are thrilled to win this award," said Mr Swales. "It was a real surprise. We have tried to make an impact during our first year at The Springfield and bring our own stamp to the business."

The couple were given a £1,000 cheque and £250 to provide a day out for staff.