CARING young men and women have earned themselves a national award for their continued efforts to help vulnerable Darlington residents.

Teenagers signed up to the Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College's (QESFC) Interact Club, which is affiliated to Darlington Rotary Club, completed a series of projects at the end of 2018, from helping out at foodbanks to sleeping out to raise funds for the homeless.

Their dedication to supporting their neighbours has now been rewarded with the national Rotary Trophy for Community Project of the Year.

National President of Rotary International Britain and Ireland, Debbie Hodge, visited Darlington to present the trophy to the group at a Rotary Club meeting.

She said: "When I first heard about the efforts of the students, I was determined to come to Darlington to present them personally with the trophy and to thank them for all they had done to promote Rotary and Interact.

"They had done in a few short months, what some Rotary clubs – although not Darlington - struggle to achieve in a year."

The Interact club’s main aim was to help people around the Christmas period.

They organised a Post Pals scheme to send Christmas cards and small gifts to children with life-limiting illnesses and helped out at the King's and St Andrew's foodbanks.

During this period, the teenagers provided 700 meals and served more than 100 Christmas dinners to members of Darlington Age UK.

They also collected £300 for the homeless, collected funds to provide Christmas gifts for Family Help Darlington, visited the town's care homes and provided gifts for residents who have no family.

They are also regular visitors to the Abbeyfield independent living complex in Darlington.

QESFC tutor, Nancy Wall, who is the Rotary link, said the 25 members of the Interact Club had not set out to win an award.

"But that I am so proud that they had been recognised for their enthusiasm and hard work," she added.

President of Darlington Rotary Club, Paul Robinson, said: "I believe this is the first time the club has been party to a national award and the Queen Elizabeth Interact members can be rightly proud of what they have achieved."