A GLOBAL pandemic may have forced key businesses and services to close throughout the country, but one Hexham market stall has continued to fight on.

The Hexham Courant has launched a campaign celebrating businesses going above and beyond in the community, identifying their special efforts by crowing them Trader of the Week.

This week, the Courant spoke to the fresh fruit and vegetable business Meadow Fruits which is serving residents in Hexham and beyond during lockdown.

Carol Allison, of the fresh fruit and vegetable business Meadow Fruits, has been working on Hexham market for more than 30 years.

Although government-enforced restrictions closed businesses throughout Hexham in March, the fruit and vegetable stall has continued trading.

“We’re really busy,” Carol said.

“I think people like to be out in the open and they are realising now coming here that we are buying fresh produce every morning.”

The market stall is currently following social distancing guidance, which sees customers queue up two metres apart in the Market Place.

Increased demand in produce from suppliers and residents has seen the business work around the clock to satisfy its customers.

Carol explained: “We go to the wholesale market at 2.30am and everything we buy is all fresh.

“Everything has been so popular here. One day it could be salad, the next it’s vegetables then fruit, we can’t buy enough.

“We’re also getting really good feedback. I’m on Hexham Matters on Facebook every day telling everyone we’re here and people are over the moon with our service.”

Local businesses have experienced an influx of new customers who have steered away from larger stores, but many fear some customers will not return once further lockdown measures are lifted.

Carol said: “It’s very important that people continue to support local businesses after the lockdown is lifted.

“A lot of small businesses won’t recover from this. It’s very important to support the high street, local businesses and to shop local.

“It would be lovely if we could get at least half of the new customers we are getting back after the lockdown to continue to shop with us.

“It’s important for all small businesses everywhere as well as Hexham.”

Trade has been so popular that the queue often snakes its way along Fore Street in the town centre.

The continued support from the public has reassured the businesses. "We’re positive for the future,” Carol said. “Hopefully the lockdown will be finished in the summer, which is our busiest period.

“People walk round the town in the summer and stop by a lot more compared to the winter.”

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