A FAMILY-RUN business has been presented a top award by MP Guy Opperman - after a long wait!

Billy Bell Fish Game & Poultry of Haltwhistle was nominated for the Small Business Award by local residents last year, which saw many other small retailers commended for their efforts during the pandemic.

The nomination process coincided with Small Business Saturday - a campaign highlighting the importance of small, independent businesses.

Due to the severity of the pandemic at the time – particularly in Haltwhistle – the award had not been presented in person, until now.

One of the oldest businesses in the town, Billy Bell is run by father and son Miles and Cameron Bell, alongside a dedicated team of eight staff.

The business, on Haltwhistle Main Street, provided meals for the vulnerable throughout the pandemic. It sells pies, fish and other baked goods - both sweet and savoury.

Presenting the award, Guy Opperman MP said: "It was great - after a long wait - to present Billy Bell with the Small Business Award.

"Small businesses are the backbone of our local economy here in Tynedale and Ponteland and it is right to recognise the hard work they do for our local communities.

"Well done to the whole team – and make sure you keep shopping local because if we don’t use them, we will lose them.

"This year’s winner - Billy Bell - has such a long-standing reputation for looking after customers in Haltwhistle, and the wider community, and is managed and run by a great team - many congratulations to them on winning this award."

Cameron Bell accepted the award on behalf of the business. "We were delighted to see Guy and appreciate winning the award as we continued to do our best for the community over a hard 18 months", he said.

In May 2020, Cameron said the food store had experienced an increase in demand from the local community during lockdown. He added: "We’re surviving and continuing to trade by working around the clock to serve our customers. The increase in demand has seen us working flat out."

Coun. Margaret Forrest, a long serving member of Haltwhistle Town Council, heaped praised on the work of the store throughout the pandemic. "They all need medals the size of frying pans,” she said. “The work they are doing is unbelievable.”

Billy Bell is open 8am until 5pm Monday-Friday and 8am until 1.30pm Saturdays. It is closed Sunday.