Farmers in the district “owe a huge debt of gratitude” to Hexham Auction Mart for the role it has played during the coronavirus pandemic.

That’s the view of award-winning Allen Valleys farmer Robert Philipson, who has been impressed at the way mart staff have gone above and beyond during a challenging year.

The venue, run by Hexham and Northern Marts, is continuing to operate during the second lockdown with strict regulations in place.

It has invested no less than £20,000 in perspex and ring furniture in the interests of Covid safety, while there are restrictions on who can enter the ring, and the mart itself.

Robert, of Sinderhope said: “The famers in the Allen Valleys as well as the rest of Tynedale owe a huge debt of gratitude to Hexham Auction Mart.

“Throughout this pandemic all the stock sales have gone ahead smoothly with all the necessary social distancing measures in all the rings.

“A drop-off service means the animals can be sold without the owners being present at the point of sale, freeing up space around the ring for the buyers with a texting service informing farmers of the prices received.”

Robert said the geographical make-up of the district makes the ability of the mart to function all the more vital, especially at this time of year.

He added: “It is so important that the animals can be sold from the hills to the lower lying farms for finishing before the harsh winter weather sets in.

“Everybody connected to the mart deserves gratitude for the extra work involved and the success of it.”