THE Easter Bunny was especially busy in one North-East town with 15,000 chocolate eggs being delivered as part of a pioneering community initiative.

He has been haring around Darlington, delivering Easter treats to the Memorial Hospital, care homes, young carers, and a community food bank so that vulnerable families don’t miss out.

The Darlington consignment was part of a pledge by Mars Wrigley to send a million “tokens of gratitude” to the UK’s NHS, keyworkers and hard-pressed communities.

The company is working in partnership with The Bread and Butter Thing – a scheme aimed at redistributing waste food to families most in need.

The initiative began in Manchester in 2016 and was recently extended to Darlington thanks to a three-way partnership between Cummins, Darlington Building Society and Darlington Borough Council.

The Bread and Butter Thing has received 329,000 chocolate goodies from Mars Wrigley, with 15,000 of them being delivered to a central hub at Darlington’s Firthmoor Community Centre. From there, they were taken to various locations by van.

Councillor Jonathan Dulston, Cabinet Member for Stronger Communities, said: “These are grim times but at least families who may be struggling for a variety of reasons will have a bit of joy this Easter.

“It again shows the value of launching The Bread and Butter Thing in Darlington, and a big thank you to Mars Wrigley for such an amazing contribution. We are delighted that the Easter Bunny has been so busy in Darlington!”

The chocolate surprises donated by Mars Wrigley were distributed to all of the 29 hubs, projects and partners linked to The Bread and Butter Thing across the north of England.

Mark Game, Chief Executive of The Bread and Butter Thing, described Mars Wrigley’s donation as “incredibly generous”.

He added: “We are enormously proud of our ethos of bringing together our communities and industry partners to make sure that donations such as this one can reach the widest number of people possible.”

The Bread and Butter Thing was launched at Corporation Road Primary School, in Darlington, last month, and is now working with Darlington Borough Council to help with the town’s COVID-crisis response team, delivering fresh produce to local families.