A 78-year-old widower has won recognition for his selfless acts as a good neighbour.

Jim Simpson, from Witton Park, County Durham, has won the Millennium Good Neighbour Award for helping former miner George Hughes, who suffered a stroke last spring.

Mr Simpson took Mr Hughes's wife, Jessie, to visit her husband in hospital. Every day, he checks on the couple, helping with shopping and supplying them with plants from his greenhouse.

Mrs Hughes, who was a runner-up in the Good Neighbour Award three years ago, said: "George was in hospital for 12 weeks and Jim took me to visit him, often twice a day. Now he comes in every day to chat to George and make sure we are all right. The award couldn't go to a better person. Jim is a wonderful neighbour and friend.

"When I was second prize winner in 1997, I felt I hadn't done anything special. But when you need help from someone and they are always there for you, it is totally different."

Mr Simpson, a former factory worker, won £150.

He said: "I just did what any normal person would in the circumstances. The Hughes's are very nice people who were very good to me when I lost my wife, Freda."

About 130 people across the region were nominated for the award, which is run by Durham Aged Mineworkers' Homes Association.

Robert Dickinson, from South Moor, won £100 after being nominated by Joseph Hilland for his daily help with household chores. Third prize went to Les Barker, from Wheatley Hill