CHARITIES have had their funding streams strangled by the coronavirus pandemic.

The fundraising events of all shapes and sizes that are the lifeblood of the charity sector have been, for the most part, cancelled due to lockdown and social distancing restrictions.

And charity funding isn't the only thing that's been lost - the sense of community that comes with getting together for a good cause has also been sorely missed.

But three women from the Allen Valleys managed to bring back some of that community spirit.

During the pandemic, the Hexham Courant has honoured citizens of the Tyne Valley who have gone above and beyond with its Bouquet of the Week feature.

This week, the winners of the crown are Allen Valleys residents Christine Cowperthwaite, Kathleen Murray, and Margaret Walter, after they set up a cake stall and raffle in Allendale Market Place to raise money for MacMillan Cancer Support.

The trio held the sale in memory of Kathleen's husband, Doug, who passed away after a battle with cancer last year.

Doug was well-known across the Allen Valleys for both his leek growing, which won him many titles, and his dry-stone walling abilities - it is said that almost every dry stone wall in the Allen Valleys was worked on by Doug.

In these strange times, it wasn't just a matter of setting up and selling cakes.

Christine explained: "With all that was going on with COVID, I just thought I would do something to raise money in Doug's memory.

"I rang Northumberland County Council and they said they didn't have a problem, but said I should check in with Public Health England.

"I was on the phone for hours! But nevermind, we got there in the end.

"We had to work really hard, I couldn't have done it without the help of my friends."

The community rallied behind the ladies, supporting them with 40 raffle prizes as well as their patronage.

All told, Christine, Kathleen, and Margaret managed to raise an amazing £908.80.

Christine continued: "It was mayhem, I think because there hasn't been any charity events this year. We sold everything in an hour and a half - I was shocked, I thought we would have to go door to door!.

"It was brilliant, we could have told it ten times over. We have a lovely, lovely village and Catton and Allenheads all supported us too. We all look after each other.

"We raised more than £900 - I was shocked again. It's a lot of money, if we raised £200 I would have thought it was fantastic.

"It was a super day. It was so nice to see smiley faces and do something nice for the village.

"Even though they were wearing masks, you could tell people were happy."