The Essity tissue mill in Prudhoe has been working around the clock to keep the NHS supplied with essential paper products such as hand towels, and supermarkets well-stocked with loo roll.

One of Tynedale’s largest employers, the mill found itself the centre of national media attention when selfish shoppers began to stockpile its products – leaving supermarket shelves bare.

Mill manager Tony Richards became the public face of the toilet tissue industry – reassuring panic-buyers that with more than 30 million toilet rolls in the Prudhoe warehouse, and millions more in the supply chain, there were plenty to go around.

But for the elderly, and others confined to their homes, Government guidelines on the need to stay indoors made it difficult for many of them to get food and household essentials.

Essity played its part by donating tens of thousands of toilet rolls to In-Kind Direct – an organisation set up by Prince Charles that supports hundreds of charities around the UK working with OAPs and people losing their jobs.

Prudhoe Mill also sent an HGV load of product to Northumberland County Council’s community shielding hub in Blyth, that is delivering emergency food parcels to vulnerable individuals across the county.

The donation was welcomed by Councillor Cath Homer, the council’s cabinet member for the community and voluntary sector who said: “These food parcels are essential in helping to support the most vulnerable and at risk at this time, and to have the support of one of the main employers in our county is phenomenal.”

Essity was also one of the first companies in Tynedale to allow support staff to work from home – leaving room on-site for key workers to work further apart – and introduced a range of other measures to minimise health risks.

“We are cleaning and sanitising around the clock, have adequate supplies of PPE, have imposed strict social distancing and are doing everything possible to keep employees and their families safe,” said Tony Richards.

“I am incredibly proud of what my colleagues are doing to keep the NHS supplied with our Tork paper products, and supermarkets stocked with toilet roll. Morale at the mill remains high and we are all just so pleased to be a small part of efforts to combat the global pandemic.”