Valentine’s Day may be behind us but Pesto at The Dibbinsdale Inn is keeping the love alive and treating one special couple to an unsuspected surprise.

Ray Hooton, formerly of Merseyside, clocked up more than 10,000 miles whilst striving to care for his terminally ill mum.

A patient of renowned Wirral hospital, Clatterbridge, Mrs Hooton was sadly admitted a number of times over the course of three years due to various ailments.

Proving that no distance is too great when it comes to the care of a loved one, 69 year old Ray and partner Teresa Cummings regularly made the 400 mile round trip to visit.

It was during this emotional and physical ordeal that Ray and Teresa discovered Pesto at the Dibbinsdale Inn, an AA 4-Star hotel and restaurant in Birkenhead, frequently used by Clatterbridge Hospital patients and visitors.

Regular visitors during the course of Mrs Hooton’s care, Teresa didn’t hesitate to nominate her loving partner when she learnt of the popular Italian Restaurant Group’s competition to reward a deserving couple.

And the retired care supervisor from South Wales is glad that she did. Upon learning of the selfless and dedicated love and support the couple provided for Mrs Hooton, the restaurant group’s senior management team didn’t hesitate to select them as winners.

Ray and Teresa are now looking forward to a romantic afternoon tea for two at Pesto at the Dibbinsdale Inn.

Speaking on his winning nomination Ray said: “The team at Pesto at the Dibbinsdale Inn were an absolute tonic during those difficult months, I cannot praise them enough.

“The last 12 months have been an extremely challenging time and it’s nice to have a treat ahead, something we can really look forward to.  It’s always great to win competitions but this is particularly good, as I didn’t even know I’d been entered!

“I’m really looking forward to seeing the team at Pesto Dibbinsdale again, under much happier circumstances.”

Cat Mealor, General Manager at Pesto at the Dibbinsdale Inn, commented: “We were incredibly touched by Ray’s story during his previous stay with us and are very much looking forward to welcoming him back.

“Based just three miles from Clatterbridge Hospital, we regularly see returning guests who are waiting to visit patients or receiving treatment themselves, and try our very best to offer help and support where we can.  That can be in the form of lifts to the hospital or sourcing of essential provisions and even gifts when guests are in a particularly challenging place.  It’s not something we ask the team to do; they’re simply gestures from the goodness of their heart.”

An AA 4-star hotel and restaurant, Pesto at the Dibbinsdale Inn is located on Dibbinsdale Road and has been central to the community since opening in 2012.

Pesto co-founder, Sara Edwards, commented: “Pesto at the Dibbinsdale Inn is truly part of the community, with the team having built many a close relationships with its customers. Ray is just one of the many familiar faces we’re excited to welcome back.”

Renowned for Italian small plates or ‘piatinni’, Pesto boasts over 40 dishes full of big flavours. Giving a true taste of little Italy, dishes include Pizzetta picante con salsiccia with spicy Italian sausage and Penne con pollo al dragoncello with chicken breast, fresh tarragon, mascarpone and pecorino cheese.

Offering a main, day time and afternoon tea menu, the restaurant is an ideal location for all occasions. To enjoy Pesto’s Italian twist on the British classic or to find further information, go to www.pestorestaurants.co.uk