IN her specially kitted out catering van, Kim Hickin is used to going the extra mile to provide tasty meals and snacks for the community.

But during the coronavirus pandemic, she went even further to support the universal response to the pandemic.

Kim and her husband Dug chose to temporarily cease trading after the UK went into lockdown, and in April, she returned to her former nursing profession.

“Kim really wanted to play her part and to make use of her skills,” said Dug. “She couldn’t return to front line nursing due to slipped discs in her neck, but she agreed to take on an administration role, freeing up other staff for front line duties.”

During the pandemic, the Hexham Courant has honoured good citizens with its Bouquet of the Week feature.

This time we shine a light on Kim, who previously worked in night nursing, looking after children on ventilators.

Kim set up Hickin’s Hamper Van alongside Dug in 2018, after moving to Alston from Dorset.

They both gave up professional occupations to live their dream of working together on a food-related enterprise on wheels. Dug is a classically trained chef, and served for 35 years as a Royal Marine.

They bought a sizeable van which was kitted out with kitchen equipment, and now serve a wide community across a 60-mile route, which they travel several times per week.

Covering Alston, they venture into the Allen Valleys and Haltwhistle, as well as Brampton and elsewhere over the Cumbrian border.

They provide a food service for residents and businesses, including home delivery, and also offer catering services for weddings and other events.

And there’s no shortage of tasty treats on offer, from breakfast baguettes and sandwiches, to wraps, pies, and a wide variety homemade cakes, brownies and flapjacks.

“We are pleased to be up and running again in September,” said Dug. “We could have kept going throughout lockdown because providing food we were classed as an essential business.

“But Kim really wanted to help the NHS during the pandemic and that was absolutely the right thing to do.”

Hickin’s Hamper Van remained on the road throughout lockdown, as the couple also supported the Alston Moor Emergency Response Group, by delivering essential supplies such as shopping to vulnerable residents.

Kim said: “We’re absolutely loving it here. We thoroughly enjoy what we do and the local people are fantastic. We have early starts, as all of our food is home produced, but that’s how we like it.”

The couple said the food they offered was just as they would make it for themselves, while Kim is becoming known as CQC - the Cake Queen of Cumbria. Visit Hickin’s Hamper Van Facebook page.