THE MANY communities throughout Tynedale thrive because of their businesses, schools and popular attractions.

The most important aspect of communities, though, is the people. Residents tirelessly carry out important engagement work in their local areas; operating and administering community events and looking out for others.

The Hexham Courant's Bouquet of the Week feature celebrates citizens who are going above and beyond to help others during the coronavirus pandemic.

This week's recipient is Debbie Finlayson, from Bardon Mill, who has continued her invaluable community engagement work during the lockdown.

Debbie is quick to understate her community support during lockdown, but as she lists the day-to-day activities she's carried out since March, it is clear her work plays a vital role in the village and surrounding areas.

"I am always telling my family to be kind to people in everyday life," she says, and something she has told her nine-year-old daughter Macie who celebrated her birthday during lockdown.

"I'm not able to undertake my usual work in the community I usually help out with because of the restrictions and I am in one of the vulnerable categories so a lot of the support has been online.

"My help began by providing people with contact details for local delivery services of essential supplies."

With the schools closed, Debbie turned her hand to daily activities with her daughter as well as daily home schooling lessons.

"We have sent parcels out to friends and family including a VE day parcel to a veteran called Terry Miller in the village."

Plans for a village-wide party to celebrate VE Day in May were scuppered by the lockdown, but the pair were determined to mark the occasion.

"We made some scones and VE Day themed bunting, and Terry created a scarecrow in his garden with his old service uniform on."

As charity awareness and fund-raising projects became more prevalent during the lockdown, Debbie carried out an all to familiar fund-raising activity.

She donated 16 inches of her, abnormally long, lockdown hair to the Little Princess Trust charity and raised £185 in the process.

The Little Princess Trust gives free wigs to children who have lost their hair through cancer or other illnesses.

Nearly 200 inches of Debbie's hair have now been cut and donated to the charity.

She explained: "It was down to my waist band and so long so it was an easy decision to get rid of it."

Another bid to raise spirits throughout the village saw Debbie and Macie create a motif of a rainbow titled 'Keep Smiling'.

"A lot of children have been creating designs on rocks and stones," she said, "painting them with positive and inspirational messages."

Bardon Mill's village store and tearoom and the, recently reopened, Bowes Hotel have both praised the public for their support during the lockdown.

Debbie added: "Our community is small, but it is thriving. The next thing I am looking forward to is bringing people back together and for some normality to come back.

"It's been brilliant the way people have changed for the better. The way we have shopped has changed by using our local butchers and shops and checking in on neighbours.

"It is a lot better and brings people together."