Light at the end of the tunnel…?

1st May 2020

A continuation of the weekly diary of Homeworker, Richard Rankin Chief Executive of H&H Group 

As we ride out a fifth week of lockdown, the Prime Minister returned to work following four weeks off as a result of Covid-19.  He spoke outside Downing Street and reported that “we are now beginning to turn the tide” on the disease.  However, this encouraging news came with a stark warning as he also implored the British public not to “throw away” the public’s “effort and sacrifice” as he suggested the lock down will continue for the foreseeable future for the safety of the nation.

Reassuringly, Mr Johnson acknowledged the growing fear over the state of the economy but encouraged the nation to contain its impatience.  Whilst predicted passing the 20,000-mark death rate was alarming news and we are all most certainly ready for a glimmer of good news and that light at the end of the tunnel.

There was positive news back in our microcosm this week, Harrison & Hetherington, our livestock auctioneers, was given the go-ahead to start commercial breeding livestock trade at our marts again and get our sales calendar in-part, back up and running.  This came on the back of an announcement last week by the combined governments of England, Scotland and Wales, to raise the current barriers on commercial breeding sales of sheep, cattle and dairy on the back of successful measures the marts have put in place.

We were always adamant to minimise any negative impacts on farmers at a critical time of year, as well as impacting the food chain in a crisis, so after 4 weeks on reduced sales this was extremely welcome news.

The Harrison & Hetherington team are now very proficient in terms of logistics of the strict guidelines to be adhered to, a ‘Drop and Go’ system minimises contact and potential spread of the virus.  This means that all vendors must follow a policy whereby the stock is dropped off and it is only buyers who have registered in advance of the sale who are permitted to attend in person and even then following the strict distancing guidelines. We have now held many successful sales and enabled our customers to continue running their farm and protect their cash flow, so we welcome this more and will continue to serve, safely, our farmers

As we hear of many businesses diversifying, even grants of British modesty, to both survive the financial burden and to provide crucial services, our own H&H Reeds are playing its small part. As we have all experienced whilst doing our essential shopping trip, there are plastic safety screens in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and protect the workers.  Despite operating a skeleton staff under social distancing rules, we are now able to print and produce these as bespoke orders and it made me ponder to think that as a result of this crisis, you really don’t know what will happen next!  We certainly didn’t predict this, us printing mental health leaflets for the county council or creating new safety and floor signage for our customers, becoming a crucial service we would need to offer, but we are thankful that we can support businesses in any way possible to help manage social distancing, contain the virus, whilst helping our local economy.

If you, like me, feel time has taken on a new dimension, unsure of the day of the week, how long have I been here at home and meal times all over the place, we must remain positive and reflect on just how far we have come.  Italy, after 7 weeks, has started to review reducing the lockdown.  Even if it is a phased process to the end of the year, if we keep doing what we are doing and following the guidelines we too may be looking at this for the bank holiday at the end of May.  It will not mean that we can go out in our hoards, but we may by then have the reassurance that we have turned the corner.  In the meantime, we must ensure we manage the space that we reside, that is to ensure that we don’t go out unnecessarily, we get our daily exercise and we keep in touch with family and friends, this will keep those to positive mental wellbeing batteries as fully charged as possible.

So as ever, despite facing more time in our own homes, enjoy the weather, relish every Facetime or Zoom meeting, but most of all stay home and stay safe to beat this pandemic.

Richard Rankin CEO