IT’S a nightmare we’ve all been through - you go to make a cup of tea, it’s all in the mug, and then you realise you have no milk.

It’s an inconvenience at the best of times - but it’s been significantly worse during the coronavirus pandemic, when popping to the shops was frowned upon and, for those who were shielding, not even an option.

Thankfully, the district is well served by its milkmen, who perhaps unsurprisingly have seen their workloads soar during lockdown.

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

This week, the accolade goes to some of Tynedale’s s milkmen - Gary Cant, Stuart Brislen, Brian Thompson, and Chris Sewell - who all deliver milk from Hanover Dairies.

All four have seen a significant upswing in business, with new customers unwilling to risk leaving the house. Gary has been stuck indoors himself with a broken hip - but has continued to man the phones while his team go out on deliveries.

He said: “I’ve got some really good lads working for me, and I’ve not been off the phones. A lot more people are showing an interest in their milk getting delivered, so it’s been very busy.

“I’ve probably never been busier in 30 years. I’m pretty safe, but the lads who work for me are the ones on the frontline going to people’s doors. They’re the heroes.”

Of course, the pandemic has meant extra precautions for everyone, including milkmen.

Brian Thompson, who delivers to the Allen Valleys, said: “It’s been a strange time. It’s been good for business for us traders, because people are staying at home.

“The thing I’ve thought about is when you’re delivering you’re putting gloves on, but then you’re touching all the bottles with those gloves. So we’ve got lotion on the truck and we use that often.”

Chris Sewell, who serves Corbridge, added: “We’re probably one of the positives for all this. People aren’t getting out as much and families have all their kids back home who were at uni and school.

“We’ve got hand sanitiser, but it wrecks your hands! So we’ve got gloves now too. We just keep them clean.

“The last thing we want to do is send it around Corbridge, especially with all the older people who live there. You take every precaution you can.”

Stuart Brislen, who has served Hexham for decades, reassured customers that they would always get their milk. He said: “It doesn’t matter if there’s four feet of snow, we’ll get milk to people.

“We provide a a service to the elderly in particular, and that is the main thing, just to make sure they get their milk."

“At the start, everyone wanted milkmen - in that first week I don’t think I knew myself, I can’t remember sleeping! The phone was going off constantly.”

Send us your nomination for Trader of the Week here.