LOCAL heroes were recognised at the Good Neighbour awards.

Held at King George’s Hall, Blackburn, the awards recognised those that go the extra mile to help their neighbours and their community.

The first award was presented to Maria Grieco and her partner Alan Ingram for their community food group 'Dinner at Maria's'.

The couple regularly open their home and invite strangers round for dinner, giving people a chance to enjoy a home cooked meal and the opportunity to make friends.

Maria said the award was a total shock.

She said: "This is the first award we have won, we couldn't believe it when they read our names, it felt a bit like we were frozen.

"We love food and chatting to people, it's amazing that we have been given an award for something we do every day while there are people who go out in all weather litter picking or go out of their way to help their neighbours.

"We really have some amazing people in the borough."

The awards recognised local heroes of all ages with sisters Layla and Khadijah Ismail being recognised for their commitment to keeping icy roads safe for their elderly neighbours.

Layla said: "We grit the roads where we live as soon as it gets icy.

"We want to make sure it's safe four our neighbours."

Mum Afshan Ismail said she was 'very proud' of her daughters.

She said: "They do such good work, the neighbours are always telling me 'your girls are wonderful'.

"Im very proud of them."

Kat Zaman was honoured for her work arranging for 17,000 pack lunches to be delivered to children centres through the summer holidays.

Mohamed Yusuf Lorgat was recognised for always going out of his way to help his neighbours.

Nine-year-old Nathan Pugh and his mum Heidi were honoured for their dedication to litter picking.

Nathan said he could not wait to spend his Love to Shop voucher on Nurf guns while Heidi said the award was a complete surprise as she did not realise she had also been nominated.

She said: "This is Nathan's second award but I had no idea I had been nominated as well.

"We have been doing it for well over four years and would recommend it to anyone.

"Litter picking gives us something positive to focus on and it gives Nathan something to focus his energy on."

Phil and Karen Boulding were recognised for the work they did for underprivileged children.

The duo set up Secret Santa Ltd with the intention of providing under privileged children in Blackburn and Darwen with Santa's sacks to open on Christmas day.

He said: "It was great to be nominated and a real surprise to win.

"It was amazing that there were so many people who had found so many ways to help each other.

"It's a shame we didn't have the BBC down to see it, after that panorama programme about divided Blackburn I think they would have come away with a completely different opinion."

Two winners were unable to attend.

Fred Rodgers was recognised for his commitment to his community and for his willingness to help his neighbours with anything including DIY, dog sitting and litter picking.

June Steele was honoured for her volunteer work within Blackburn and Darwen and the support she gives the council.

MP for Rossendale and Darwen Jake Berry said the awards prove Blackburn with Darwen is the 'friendliest borough in the UK'.

He said: "The good neighbour awards are a great way of celebrating the fantastic people we have in the borough.

"The number of nominations shows the fantastic community spirit we have in Blackburn with Darwen.

"I think we can definitely claim the title of being the friendliest borough in the UK."