FOOD deliveries are essential during a time of crisis, with many people across the district self isolating to protect themselves from coronavirus.

Customers of Catton-based Jill’s Catering have relied upon the services of Jill Wilkinson and her small team more than ever.

The Hexham Courant is running a campaign which champions businesses which have gone above and beyond in the community, by crowning them Trader of the Week.

This week, the focus is on Jill’s Catering, which has grown from strength-to-strength over the past decade.

Jill admitted that lockdown provided one of her biggest challenges to date, but it is one she and her team have taken by storm.

“When everything started to shut down, we didn’t really know what was happening,” said Jill.

“I didn’t want us to stop working and place everyone on furlough. It quickly became evident that people wanted us to continue, and for some customers our food deliveries have been a lifeline.”

Among Jill’s customers are people who are elderly and vulnerable, as well as those who work long hours.

Every week, hundreds of homemade meals are cooked in the kitchen of Jill’s team room at Catton.

The freshly made dishes, including mince and dumplings and other traditional classics, are frozen, before being delivered to recipients in the Allen Valleys, Haydon Bridge, Fourstones, Newbrough, Acomb, Corbridge, Hexham, Slaley, and surrounding areas.

Jill added: “For people who can’t get out of the house, or go to the shops, this is an ideal way to get freshly made meals which just need to be heated up.”

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has inevitably resulted in changes to Jill’s business, for the time being, at least.

“At the moment the deliveries of frozen meals is the bulk of what we’re doing,” said Jill.

“The tea room still opens,” she said, “but for takeaways only, and we’ve had people coming in for cheesecakes, pies and pasties, sandwiches, toasties and jacket potatoes.

“In all areas of the business, whether we’re at the tea room, or on people’s doorsteps, we’ve been very careful to act in accordance with government guidelines.

“It has been a challenge but I am glad that we decided to keep going through this difficult time to serve our communities.”

Jill initially set out in business 11 years ago, cooking meals in her home kitchen and delivering them in a van refurbished by her dad.

She went on to open her current premises, which was built initially as a commercial kitchen with garage space, before converting part of it into a cafe, which opened three years ago.

More information can be found about the Catton-based business via the Jill’s Catering page on Facebook, or by calling Jill on 07957571885.