Towns United During Covid-19
Times of crisis often bring out the best in people – and the last few months have been no exception. As the coronavirus crisis escalated, people in Berkhamsted and Tring stepped up to help others, and a real sense of community emerged. We were so overwhelmed by how generous and kind both individuals and businesses were being – from people making PPE equipment for the amazing NHS staff, to home deliveries and local communities helping each other – that we wanted to give a mention to as many as possible to recognise their efforts.
We’ve probably missed loads, so huge apologies if you’re not mentioned – but do email and let us know and we can give you a shout out on our social media channels!
A Facebook group was set up for Berkhamsted called the Covid-19 Mutual Support Group. Set up by Jon Russell and Lisa Hartley on Friday 13 March. By the following Monday every single street in the town had a volunteer to deliver leaflets offering help to every resident, whether vulnerable, self-isolating or other. It continued its good work throughout the crisis – and Jon kept the spirits of the town up with a weekly online quiz every Saturday night!
Lisa Hartley said: ‘I knew we had to do something for the town, and the response was incredible! I wanted to make sure no one was left out, or unable to get the things or the contact they needed. It’s been very humbling to see the whole town get on board and I’m so glad that, at such an uncertain time, so much togetherness is emerging. We hope that this continues long into the future.’
Dave Rance (pictured top) showed what a true local hero he was when he offered to go shopping, pick up prescriptions, and carry out any other job needed for the elderly, vulnerable and those self-isolating. He was easily recognisable thanks to a rainbow of balloons on top of his car made and donated by Emma Moorcroft of Berkhamsted Balloons, and he also decorated the front of his car to give thanks to the NHS workers.
‘I was working at the Old Mill and when it closed I was furloughed,’ he said. ‘They started their grocery service so I offered to deliver for them for free, and then I offered my services on Facebook. I spent about four hours a day delivering Old Mill groceries and the rest of the day doing anything else. It kept me busy and I like to help people. It’s definitely better than sitting at home doing nothing!’
Steve Butcher, organiser of Tring’s annual Chilfest, invested in eight laser printers and made hundreds of PPE masks which were sent to hospitals and pharmacies around the area.
Further afield in Leighton Buzzard, Design Technology teachers Jacqueline Hargreaves and her husband also made thousands of protective face masks using their own laser cutter and materials and a 3D printer borrowed from school.
South East Crafts for Causes, led by Colleen Duggan and Angela Hutchinson, made dozens of scrubs for workers at local NHS hospitals.
Laura Wheeler from Tring started making headbands with buttons on for those on the front line having to wear masks all days to save pressure on their ears. They were snapped up in their hundreds!
Tring-based HR guru Hayley Hyde offered to help people work out what they are entitled to in terms of benefits or packages from their workplace.
Christopher Dell from digital company Great Big Small compiled a list of restaurants offering online deliveries of takeaway food on the website www.foodfromyourhighstreet.com to make it easy for people to support their favourite eateries.
Meanwhile, Charlie Pritchard from Berkhamsted made hundreds of eco-friendly washable baby wipes when she heard that people were struggling to get hold of disposable ones. They were distributed to hundreds of people across the town.
Opera singer Louisa Alice Rose from Tring held a concert on Facebook and released her debut album.
Caroline Collard from Boxmoor and her eight-year-old daughter Lucy set up a challenge to inspire people to get moving during lockdown. ‘Lucy suggested that if she could run every day, so could anyone,’ said Caroline. They launched ‘Lucy’s Marathon Challenge’ – to get people to complete a marathon distance (26 miles or 42km) in any way they could. Visit @boxmoornutrifit on Facebook or Instagram.
Tring resident Wendy Lawrey nominated her sister Angela for recognition for going the extra mile during lockdown. ‘She supports her neighbours and rings them every day so they don’t feel alone,’ she said. ‘She also helps out an elderly man in Berkhamsted by shopping and collecting prescriptions for him. I’m very proud of her.’
Designer Steve Burdekin made a brilliant banner to thank the NHS.
‘We needed show our support for all the public services working so hard,’ he said. ‘I regard these people as the beating heart of our communities.’ He designed a banner which he painted with the help of his kids and hung at the top of Bridle Way where walkers could see it every day.
The lovely and always smiling Mark Twyman and his Berko Black Cab offered free taxi rides to NHS workers who needed to get to hospital, particularly during difficult times of the day.
‘My taxi has a separate carriage,’ said Mark ‘so I knew it would help those who need it most to minimise their contact with the public. ‘I also wanted to show my gratitude to the community as they’ve been so supportive of Berko Black Cab since day one. ‘I’m financing this myself but I’ve also had really generous donations from friends, customers and even complete strangers. I will continue to do this as long as it’s needed.’
Our Bookshop in Tring was still open for business virtually, despite being forced to close their doors.
‘The national wholesaler has unfortunately stopped delivering in bulk so whilst we can still order books individually, we also need to focus on the stock we have in the shop,’ explains Ben Moorhouse. ‘When the order is received, the books are collated, then the payment is taken over the phone and finally the books are delivered to the customers doorstep (usually by me on my bike!). Social distancing is adhered to at all times.
‘It’s a highly manual process but the community has been very supportive through this difficult time. Many customers have put in a number of orders, far more than they probably need, just so they are supporting Our Bookshop.’
The Old Mill
The pub might have closed its doors to customers, but it set up an online delivery service of meals, drinks and a wide selection of groceries (including toilet roll and flour!) to thousands of people all over the town. Owner Andy Clarke worked round the clock to provide groceries, and was a godsend to many of the people unable to get to the supermarket.
Tring Together Spring Fayre was moved online, and dozens of businesses took part, offering free exercise classes, wine tasting and much, much more. www.tringtogether.org.uk
Open Door in Berkhamsted
The volunteers and class tutors at Open Door in Berkhamsted continued to do what they do best – provide nourishment, exercise and creative inspiration.
In conjunction with Berko Food for Friends they started a free meal delivery service, and people who were vulnerable or self-isolating could order evening meals for delivery. Much of the food was donated by Waitrose, and a donation was made by the Town Council.
Other classes running virtually included pilates, art and relaxing yoga.
They’re also planning a new exhibition for when they’re allowed to reopen called ‘Transformations – New Life’ – and anyone can submit artwork to be displayed. So get creating in whatever medium you like: Textiles, ceramics, mixed media, jewellery, 3D, music, writing, photography, digital. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or message them via their Facebook page.
Sacha from Black Goo set up demonstrations of the baking process of their most popular items including brownies and rocky road on Instagram. She showed the process from start to finish so loyal customers didn’t have to miss out on their favourite treats! @BlackGooCoffee
Tring Radio was set up by local window cleaner Tim Raidl – and it’s gone from strength to strength. ‘The idea was to do something to help the local community,’ said Tim. ‘I set it up with my own money, and any profit we make in the future will go to charity. Just two weeks in and we already had 500 listeners, so we’re hopeful this can continue well into the future.’
Several garages in Berkhamsted offered contact-free collection and delivery for services, including The Car Works and Roy Chapman.
Vanarama, the UK’s leading independent commercial and personal vehicle leasing company launched a Covid-19 Small Business Support Team to provide information and guidance to sole traders, the self-employed and small limited companies.
Age UK Dacorum collected foodbank donations at the beginning of the crisis, and a couple of weeks later interviewed and recruited more than a dozen volunteers to act as ‘Phone Befrienders’ for the elderly and isolated at home.
Physique Fitness centre offered fun home workout videos, while Tring Sports Centre offered free weekly live Clubbercise classes on their FB page.
Tring Pilates owner Liz Van Hullen took her classes online from 20 March, and worked with many clients throughout the period. ‘The sessions were carried out via Zoom – it’s amazing what you can do with a couple of tins of beans, a cushion and even a pair of tights!’ she said.
Tring Buzz supported local businesses by listing all the local shops and businesses who had switched to trading online for people to order everything from gifts to hardware and more.
Tring Yoga’s classes were moved online. ‘It worked really well and people were grateful to be able to carry on with the classes,’ said owner Pauline Gibbons.
Tring Brewery made it easy to keep your beer stocked up by offering an online or phone ordering service and a contact-free carry-to-the-car service when you went to collect it.
Kate Parrott from Polly and Petal florists installed a stunning rainbow flower display at her Tring home.
As a thank you to the NHS, a team of small businesses from Tring came together to offer discounts and complimentary services for a future wedding for one NHS bride or groom-tobe. The Herts Wedding Collective offered the package worth £3000 which will include Bridal make-up by Lara @makeupinlondon, a £250 voucher towards bridal hairstyling from @hairbyaletharobertson, flowers worth £250 from @pollyandpetal, £250 towards wedding photography and another £250 for videography from @gregmandyphotography, a made-to-measure suit by @jordanelizabethtailoring, a £250 voucher towards a dress, accessories or alterations from @ameliageorgebridal and a £500 voucher towards a wedding cake from @atyourwishcakes as well as DJ services from Pete Ashmore. Go to https://tinyurl.com/y773e2o4
The Tyre Changers gave priority to key workers and offered contact-free tyres changes.
Grace and Sons and Maggie J took the opportunity to have a refurb ready for when they were able to reopen.
After it had to close its doors, ASK in Berkhamsted donated hundreds of meals to charities and members of the public.
Volunteers at the Swan Youth Centre helped deliver parcels and make deliveries for the elderly and vulnerable.
Hubert Figg pharmacy had an army of volunteers picking up and delivering prescriptions to its customers.
Emma Parkes McQueen from Berkhamsted Yoga ran free online yoga classes for kids.
Bergin & Bath, who run craft workshops and design content for print and digital publication, created letterbox craft kits to bring the workshop experience to people stuck at home, with online video tutorials available.
Quirky Carpentry’s Tony Powers made and trialled laptop holders for people working from home. For every one sold he donated £5 to the NHS.
The curtain maker at Rebecca Clarke Interiors turned her hand to making much-needed scrubs to donate to local hospitals.
Although forced to close for several weeks, The Fitness Society continued to post online workouts for their members despite not taking any monthly fees.
VAH closed its doors for most of the time, but remained open a few hours a week. Although customers weren’t allowed inside the shop, orders were collected by the staff and brought to the front door.
To keep themselves afloat during difficult times, and to provide a welcome service to our towns, many businesses offered a delivery service – and not just restaurants! Among those were:
Nick and Dave from Berkhamsted Sports who offered advice and delivery of sports equipment to help keep us all active.
Eastwoods Butchers offered deliveries and click & collect and were overwhelmed by the response.
Wigginton Community Shop, run entirely by volunteers, kept its doors open every morning and delivered food round the village.
Sandwich Plus in Tring offered free deliveries for those busy bees working at home.
Puddingstone Distillery delivered gin free round the town.
Lolly and Mitch set up an online shop with free delivery and 20 per cent off.
PE Mead Farm shop kept its doors open and delivered around the town with help from Puddingstone Distillery.
J Batchelors and Tring Garden Centre offered deliveries of gardening supplies including vegetables, plants and compost.
Beechwood Fine Foods offered local deliveries.
Fancy That also offered a delivery service, and even made it easy to shop with a 3D tour around the shop on their website.
Paul at the Spectacle Store in Tring offered repairs and new glasses and collected and delivered for free.
Almar Printing delivered orders of stationery and craft activities to people’s doors every day.
Tring Restaurants who offered delivery included Olive Limes, The Kings Arms, while Craftyard offered a click and collect service on craft beer on tap and in cans.
Tring Winery also offered free local delivery, as well as online tasting events with samples delivered to your door.
Berkhamsted Arts and Crafts offered advice, ideas and free delivery. Jo Kidd and the team offered a sterling service to stop residents getting bored.
Many, many Berkhamsted restaurants offered delivery including the Old Mill, Tabure, The Meating Room, Fat Buddha, the Curry Garden and the Akash – and the Berkhamsted Bottling Company delivered cocktails directly to your door!
A fine effort and very much appreciated by everyone in Tring and Berkhamsted!