WHAT do you do when you run a hugely popular café and eatery, and you suddenly notice some of your regular clients have stopped coming?

You check up on them to make sure they’re OK, of course.

That’s precisely what Steve Holding of the Pig & Pastry on Bishopthorpe Road did.

It was a couple of weeks before lockdown, when the coronavirus was already stalking the land and people were becoming understandably worried.

It turned out that the Pig & Pastry's missing customers were having to self-isolate. "We were worried about them, so we started checking on them, and making some meals for them," Steve said.

Within a week, the Pig & Pastry itself had closed because of lockdown. But Steve and his team continued making the free meals and delivering them. And quickly, others joined in. Before long no fewer than nine restaurants and cafés - including Skosh, Source, the Haxby Baker and Dough Eyed Pizza - were involved in what became known as the Supper Collective.

A team of 80 volunteers also got involved, phoning around to check on vulnerable people and delivering the free, hot meals by bike.

Steve initially used up ingredients that he had at the Pig & Pastry. But as the Supper Collective grew, they needed more money. Crowd-funding raised £20,000, and there was also a lottery grant of £10,000. By the time lockdown was easing, the Supper Collective had delivered an astonishing 13,000 hot meals to vulnerable local people.

And the work is continuing: 200 meals a week are still being delivered, and in future Steve hopes to focus on lonely people.

Lockdown was scary - but it was also an eye-opener, he said. "There are so many people who live alone, who don't see anybody. The people that we were feeding were people who had had no help."

Earlier this week, the Supper Collective became the latest of a series of York community groups to receive a special 'lockdown heroes' blue plaque from York Civic Trust in recognition of their efforts during lockdown.

"Their work in reaching out to local people who needed help was a wonderful example of community action," said Duncan Marks, the Trust's Civic Society Manager.

Other groups which received a lockdown heroes plaque at the same time were the 'Ladies of Haxby Post Office' and James Sanderson and a group of volunteers in the Barlby area, who provided meals and food parcels to struggling families, collected medicines, delivered newspapers, made welfare telephone calls - and even walked dogs. "A whopping 1,100 people have so far benefitted!" Mr Marks said.

To find out more about York's 'lockdown heroes', visit yorkcivictrust.co.uk/home/york-heroes/