THE past four-and-a-half months have brought the best out of the Tyne Valley’s towns and villages.

Lockdown generated a plethora of challenges for people of all ages, perhaps none more so than the elderly and vulnerable.

Being asked to remain at home, in some cases without family and friends to call upon, to protect themselves from coronavirus, deprived many people of their basic liberties.

But thanks to the tremendous efforts of local communities, volunteer-led groups were quickly established to help those in need.

Every week, the Courant recognises special citizens who have stepped forward during these unprecedented times.

This week we shine the light on Hayley Turner, who established the Haydon Bidge Covid-19 Community Group, and has gone way beyond the call of duty to put food on tables, and to offer words of comfort from the end of a telephone.

The group has been a resounding success. Hayley and her team, which included Gill Valentine and Julie Renwick, enlisted a team of up to 50 volunteers who distributed food packages to doorsteps.

“We’re still functioning,” said Hayley. “Despite the easing of lockdown, there are still people who are vulnerable. They don’t feel comfortable leaving the house or going into the shops.

“A lot of the time at present its phone calls, making sure people are okay, and that they have what they need.

“Having someone to talk to can make a difference. People are vulnerable not just for health reasons. During the pandemic they have lost their library, the luncheon club, and other forms of social interaction.”

Hayley and her husband John, alongside other volunteers, have used their own kitchens to provide hot meals in some cases.

She added: “Where necessary we’ve put people in touch with the food back, but there have been times when we’ve been cooking meal at home, and made a bit extra. It’s just a case of wanting to help.

“Once again, I’d like to thank everyone who has been involved. We’ve all worked hard in accordance with government regulations and we’ll keep going until we get through this.”

Now that the school summer holidays are under way, Hayley and other volunteers are working on a project for young people in the community.

They are putting together activity packs for different age groups, from toddlers to teenagers. There will be games, activities and competitions, with art and creative writing among the subjects explored.

“I hope this will be engaging for the children and young people, and also give them a bit of incentive with prizes on offer,” she said.

Hayley is keen to hear from anyone willing to donate prizes for the competitions, which will run until the end of August.