A bit more breathing space…

3rd June 2020

This week’s diary entry from homeworker, Richard Rankin: “Another bank holiday has safely passed, and we are thankfully seeing a more sustained R-rate, with the Coronavirus speed of infection rate staying stable for over two weeks now.

The number of deaths linked to coronavirus in the UK has also fallen to its lowest level in six weeks, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics and those daily graphs continue to move in the right direction.  The message from the Government always comes with the usual provisos to not get too complacent but after so many weeks in strict lockdown, I bet you all, like I, breathed another sigh of relief at some good news.  Although we’re not there yet and we have to keep that R-rate below 1 or risk a second wave, something I really rather not contemplate, not with deaths pushing 40,000 already!

On a business front, although across the country many activities and transactions have been put on hold, I was thrilled when we were able to successfully complete the acquisition of a local Cockermouth company, Dotcom Associates Limited.  As it joins the H&H family it also strengthens our offering from our Reeds team.

Many months in the planning, this highly strategic move increases our technical and web development and hosting significantly and gives us the capability to advance our business plan by two to three years and the continuation of our vision to become a turnkey service for our clients.  In these times, it is especially pleasing to make tangible forward progress and secure our future.

Other positive news came in that we have been able to open the doors again of H&H Land & Estates, our land agency and estate agency businesses.  These guys have been working tirelessly from home throughout the pandemic but are all ready to get back to the office to offer face-to-face support and services.  Valuing a piece of land outdoors is obviously less risk than meeting a client wanting to buy a property in an office, however, we have it covered and can assure that we return to ‘business as usual’ having done a very thorough COVID risk assessment and put in strict distancing measures for staff and clients.  All meetings will be on appointment basis only and anyone booking in will be guided through the process to ensure everyone’s safety.

As we emerge from our isolation and start to get out and about in our fabulous countryside, we thought it appropriate to circulate an article this week on sheep worrying.  This was prompted by a revised law in Scotland that increased the penalties for anyone found guilty of their dog causing distress, or worse, to any livestock.  On the back of this, I have two messages.  Firstly, to the general public, which pretty much covers any one of us, to respect our great outdoors as you take your extended daily exercise with your furry friend.   Please make sure you keep your dog on a lead and avoid contact with livestock.  My second message is to farmers to review if they are covered for livestock worrying (yes there is a policy for that!) as 15,000 sheep a year are killed by pet dogs.  These incidents can be distressing both emotionally and if the worst happens, financially, so it’s worth reviewing your insurance cover.

Our livestock business, Harrison and Hetherington, added tractors and machinery to the usual sheep and cattle line-up this week. With 200 lots, our timed online auction certainly covered a lot of ground including 16 tractors/diggers, 2 high specification Land Rover Defenders, farm vehicles and gators as well as a plethora of smaller implements.   I am also pleased to report that livestock sales have remained buoyant despite the current conditions and online selling, whilst not replacing the hubbub of a live auction, is now a fact of life in the economy.  In the context of livestock trading it may well prove to be an additional way of business in the future.

I am taking some well-earned leave this week to enjoy some family time and also, it would appear, the sunshine!  I will of course be doing my bit to keep myself and others safe and ask you too once more, to stay alert and stay safe” 😊

Richard Rankin
Chief Executive