WORKING in a busy pharmaceutical and retail environment is neither enviable nor easy - particularly in a pandemic! But one Tynedale team stepped up to the mark when it was needed the most and have even made it look effortless.

The Hexham Courant’s Trader of the Week was launched at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic with the aim of recognising businesses going above and beyond to help their communities. And this week, Boots Pharmacy, on Alexandra Terrace, in Stocksfield, is the bearer of the crown.

Under the new management of Amanda Blair, the five-strong team has worked throughout the successive lockdowns, with many a happy customer taking to social media to share their gratitude as staff work beyond their hours and deliver essential medicines to patients.

“We’ve fared really well”, said Amanda. “Purely on the backing of how great the community is, everything has been done together.

"I can’t say there’s been one person or one business that has stood out in the village, because everyone has stood out.

"We’ve been able to do what we do because of the way the community has come together; seeing everyone working together to keep the vulnerable and shielding patients at home and making sure they have their medications, it’s been really overwhelming in a really nice, positive way.

“Our priority is to keep our patients in the community safe. We knew we’d never be closed, we knew we’d always have to operate, but to do that, we’ve had to keep ourselves safe.

"Staff have had to make quite a lot of sacrifices and everyone has been really understanding with that.

“Coming to work is an absolute pleasure, which seems really odd because most people don’t want to go to work, they want to be at home, because they don’t feel safe. I can honestly say, we’ve never not felt safe in Stocksfield at all.

"The business has also grown massively because, naturally, people have had to stay local. We’ve got to meet or speak to new people that we mightn’t have seen before, it’s been really good for building relationships up.”

And it hasn’t just been locals to pick up on their good work. For the branch was shortlisted for a Chemist and Druggist (C&D) Award 2020 in November.

The C&D awards, now in their 13th year, were held via digital ceremony and celebrate excellence in the sector. And while the team may have not scooped up the ‘Covid Hero Outstanding Team Award’, they were the only Boots branch in the country to be a finalist - an incredible achievement in itself!

Amanda said: “The fact that we were recognised was amazing. It was lovely to hear what other people had been doing as well and how much people are sacrificing.”

The chemist acted as a drop off point for a Hexham Hospital toiletry collection and the Shoebox Appeal. “We were absolutely inundated, people were so so generous.”