Like many of you, I’ve enjoyed taking our first tentative steps back to normality in the last couple of weeks.
That has included a trip to the pub during a busy day around the local area last Friday.
I called at the Black Bull at Middleham to enjoy a quick lunch in the sunshine and met new owners Harriet and Sam Mashford. They took ownership of this characterful Dales pub in the centre of the town just a month ago.
I very much welcome their investment in our local hospitality industry after such a challenging year for the sector and particularly their recruitment of three staff to run the business with them.
They have exciting plans to create some additional overnight accommodation with three newly-refurbished bedrooms and also to develop the food side of the business.
They have an important advantage here in the shape of Harriet’s father Paul – 40 years a baker – and I can vouch for the quality of his pies. The chicken and chorizo variety was truly excellent!
Harriet and Sam are doing their best to serve their customers at the moment with their limited outdoor space. It was these type of circumstances the Government had in mind when setting up the Restart Grant scheme for the hospitality, leisure, accommodation, personal care and non-essential retail sectors.
The one-off grants announced in last month’s Budget are worth up to £18,000 for bigger hospitality, accommodation and leisure sites and up to £6,000 for non-essential retailers.
They are designed to help these hard-hit businesses re-open safely while they are still in many cases subject to various Covid-19 restrictions, and also to help with their bills and to retain staff as they re-establish their customer base.
Applications for these grants have to be made to the local authority and are due to be paid shortly and are on top of the support packages put in place in 2020 and earlier this year.
A business which received grant support last year is the Boggle Hole gift shop in Barkers Arcade, Northallerton.
I called in to see how this new business was faring as the most recent opening restrictions were lifted. It only opened last summer after the relaxation of trading restrictions associated with the first wave of the virus.
Andrew Turner, who runs this lovely shop with his wife Melanie, were delighted to be open again.
The shop is a great advertisement for the creativity and quality of Yorkshire craft businesses because absolutely everything is sourced from within the county.
Almost 90 different suppliers from around Yorkshire provide Boggle Hole’s stock – and they include most recently a chocolatier based at Leeming Bar called Ben Ellis.
Ben’s individually-crafted chocolates look as good as they taste and also have the added benefit of being low in sugar. For someone who really enjoys chocolate that’s a huge bonus!
As we return to our High Streets and town centres, can I urge you all when you can to shop local, where possible using businesses like Boggle Hole which source their products from nearby.
It all helps our local and regional economy recover from the last year’s difficulties.