How people in Yorkshire adapted their lives to the lockdown

PUBLISHED: 00:00 26 May 2020 | UPDATED: 07:55 26 May 2020

It's peak planting season for Tommy Banks and the team at Black Swan, Oldstead - farms don't stop for anything ...

It's peak planting season for Tommy Banks and the team at Black Swan, Oldstead - farms don't stop for anything ...

Andy Bulmer

We’ve all had to learn to live life at a distance in the past few weeks. Yorkshire folk tell us what they’ve learned from lockdown.

Chef Tommy Banks and brother James get busy in the greenhouseChef Tommy Banks and brother James get busy in the greenhouse

Tommy Banks

Chef director at Black Swan Oldstead and Roots York

‘This time of year is always busy on the farm. We’d be getting lots of seeds in the ground, with eight to ten people working full-time. Because of social distancing, we’ve had to scale right back, but we don’t want to get to summer and have no produce. You can’t just turn a farm off and on again.

‘We’ve branched out into delivering ‘ready meals’, for want of a better term, to a small radius around the restaurant. On top of this, we’re creating 100 meals a week for the NHS, things like homemade granola and compote or macaroni cheese. There’s only one chef in the restaurant each day. Some have been furloughed, but have volunteered to work.

‘I haven’t had a day off since this all started. The food boxes and hospital meals are sent out on Fridays and Saturdays, so the week is geared around this. The supplier chain is difficult and there are longer lead times, but many are willing to donate produce. I feel sorry for asparagus farmers, as this has fallen right in their season (we’ve been using Spilmans asparagus in dishes like asparagus tart and asparagus and pancetta macaroni cheese). ‘Things may never be quite the same, but the businesses that are willing to change and evolve will survive. Did I ever think I’d be doing takeaway boxes? Never! But I’ve quite enjoyed it.


Sat Mann from Lean LunchSat Mann from Lean Lunch

Sat Mann

Owner of Lean Lunch, a meal and food delivery service in Leeds

‘Normally we deliver healthy lunches to companies in and around Leeds, but with the vast majority of offices closed, we had to rethink our business model. The panic buying in the supermarkets proved food was going to be an issue, so we looked into providing fresh fruit and vegetables to people’s homes, and within two days we had launched the service.

Eating well is one of the only things we can control at the moment and home delivery is something we’ll think about longer term.

‘The pandemic has taken away some of the focus on the environment, but it is important to get it back on track. Air quality has improved, but plastic waste is through the roof. We want our business to be sustainable, eliminate waste, use compostable packaging and electric vans for delivery. We have seen what a small shortage in food looks like and the optimist in me hopes we’ll use this terrible situation to learn something about the importance of food.’


Emmerdale's Mandy Dingle, actor Lisa RileyEmmerdale's Mandy Dingle, actor Lisa Riley

Lisa Riley

Emmerdale actor

‘My main home is in London, but I am isolating in Leeds, with my fiancé Al. I was recently counting up all the jobs on my CV and realised I’ve worked and lived in Leeds the most throughout my career – eight years when I was first on Emmerdale, then five years on Fat Friends and I have been back on Emmerdale, playing Mandy Dingle, for almost a year. It’s never boring in ‘Mandy Land’!

‘I would normally be filming Monday to Friday, but the studio has stopped filming. We currently have enough episodes to be transmitted three times a week until early summer. Soaps are the lifeblood of the UK; the British audience has such a massive connection with them and they want us back in their living rooms each night. Trust me, they tell me every time I go to the supermarket!

‘I’ve been using my extra time to try to learn the flute. Al is a musician and we have all the instruments around the house. I thought with the flute being so small I could fit it in my work bag and keep trying after lockdown. Currently it’s not going that well!’

Emmerdale is on ITV1, Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 7pm


Maimie McCoy in Van der ValkMaimie McCoy in Van der Valk

Maimie McCoy

Actor from North Yorkshire

‘I had been due to start filming the second series of [ITV detective drama] Van Der Valk in Amsterdam, but that has totally paused. We’re hoping filming will start again in September, but until then I’m at home, trying to implement some sort of schooling for my daughter. It makes you very much appreciate teachers’ skills and input!

‘I had my birthday during lockdown, which was the busiest one ever. One friend left a cake and a bottle of fizz on the doorstep and another gathered some wild garlic for me. I’ve also enjoyed returning the favour and leaving cakes on friends’ doorsteps. I sent my mum and dad a parcel from Bettys, too.

‘I was a fan of the original All Creatures Great and Small series, so it will be lovely when the remake comes out [on Channel 5] later this year, because I’m in it! I can’t wait to get back to Yorkshire, where I grew up. I want to go to Malton Food Festival and take my daughter on the steam train in Pickering. And I’d love a hike at Sheepwash or Roseberry Topping.’

Watch Maimie in Van Der Valk on the ITV Hub


artist richard burnleyartist richard burnley

Jane and Richard Burnley

Artists and designers from Thirsk

Jane says: ‘I normally teach jewellery workshops at ArtisOn in Masham and I am a member of a craft cooperative shop in Reeth, called Fleece, where I sell my jewellery and cards. Richard and I are regular participants in the North Yorkshire Open Studios event in June, which has been cancelled this year.’

‘I haven’t been going to my furniture workshop at all,’ says Richard. ‘Instead I’ve been hand-building clay pots at home in the conservatory. I have been taking ceramics classes for a few years and usually sell them through a couple of local galleries, and at the Open Studios.’

Jane says: ‘I’m still trying to do something art-based every day, either painting, printing, jewellery making or card making, also in the conservatory with Richard. I have surprised myself in that I started to really enjoy having time to experiment.

Richard adds: ‘I had been considering retiring from making furniture, and was concerned as to how I would get on. This practice run has shown me that I can keep myself occupied, so I am very pleased!’


Helen BrayshawHelen Brayshaw

Helen Brayshaw

Ilkley-based artist

The creative spirit has raised a wry smile as well as funds for the NHS thanks to Ilkley artist Helen Brayshaw.

Bringing home a ‘stay away for now’ message, her prints parody traditional tourism posters and highlight a particular aspect of the months of lockdown experienced by communities in the Yorkshire Dales when government restrictions curbed all but non-essential travel across the UK.

The images challenge the antisocial behaviour of the minority who flouted guidelines designed to prevent the spread of Covid-19 by flocking to popular destinations in the National Park and beyond.

In contrast to the expected welcoming sentiment, Helen’s posters send a clear message to so-called ‘covidiots’ that they should return home and come back another day. Helen’s limited edition fine art prints at £20 each have proved a huge hit with hundreds sold to raise funds for the NHS and Yorkshire Ambulance NHS Trust charities. So far £750 has been raised.

The prints feature landmarks such as York Minster, Ilkley’s Cow and Calf rocks and Ribblehead Viaduct. One of the images, a sweary ‘ Ilkley Moor’s barred’ message has proved the most popular with over 70 sold so far, laughs Helen. ‘Like many artists, I’ve been struggling creatively through lockdown, with both motivational and practical issues.’ she says.

Helen Brayshaw posterHelen Brayshaw poster

‘We had to close the gallery which I co-run in Ilkley, The Solar Gallery, an artist-led space in the town’s 14th Manor House Museum, which showcases the work of our 30-strong collective.

‘To adapt practically, I’ve devised a way of eeking out my dwindling supply of paints by mixing them with plenty of (Yorkshire!) water, and pouring landscape studies straight onto the canvas. I call this innovative technique ‘Moor Pours’, and I’m actually extremely pleased with them!’

So far her travel prints have reached as far as San Antonio, Texas, and Nova Scotia. The project was inspired by the #DontVisitWalesChallenge on Twitter back in April and was a departure for the artist who studied for a MA in Fine Arts at the University of Leeds.

In the past she’s enjoyed a royal seal of approval with her still life oil painting, Halved Avocado, which was displayed at the Open Exhibition at the Ferens Art Gallery during Hull’s period as UK City of Culture. Prince Charles and Camilla spotted it on an official visit to the gallery, loved it and bought it.

To buy prints contact helen.‌



Lynn HullLynn Hull

Lynn Hull

A specialist practitioner based at Embsay Primary School

‘I work with children throughout the Craven area who have communication and interaction difficulties. Normally at this time of year, work would be manic, as the children prepare to transition into different year groups and new schools, which can lead to a lot of anxieties.

The pandemic has, obviously, grounded all of our visits, but we are offering support by phone and online and our school is open to key workers’ children.

‘When the schools reopen fully, I think there will be a lot of increased anxieties. There might even be a few difficulties in getting children to actually come back into school.

‘I’m looking forward to seeing the children that I work with, all of my colleagues, but most of all, I’m looking forward to meeting up with my family and friends, going down to our local pub (The Railway in Cononley) and having a really good catch up.’


Paul Lamb with Jake ScottPaul Lamb with Jake Scott

Paul Lamb

Team manager of SwiftCarbon Pro Cycling, a Yorkshire-based professional road racing team

‘As I write, our team of cyclists would be preparing to compete in the Tour de Yorkshire. We came fifth last year, and were desperate to give another great account of ourselves on our local roads. As a resident of Pateley Bridge, it is particularly disappointing as the race was due to pass through the town twice. Let’s hope the routes will be retained next year.

‘One challenge we have faced is what to do with a group of riders trained to be at peak fitness now, which takes a full winter of arduous training to prepare for. To their credit, they have accepted the new norm exceptionally well, and most riders can continue to train to some degree. We have organised virtual races (riding on a turbo trainer while watching the race on a screen) against our sister team in Portugal and involving the public.

‘The team is desperate to get back to what they love, but also appreciate that there are far more serious and tragic issues to address at the moment. Sport, along with many other things we take for granted, can wait for the time being.’


Judith BlackburnJudith Blackburn

Judith Blackburn

A Marie Curie volunteer from Threshfield, Craven

‘I’m lucky enough to have retired a couple of years ago to the Yorkshire Dales and, like many fellow retirees, need to use my time fruitfully. So I applied to be a helper volunteer for Marie Curie, offering support to people with terminal illnesses. I was matched with my client Margaret just as the lockdown hit, so we haven’t even met in person yet.

‘I am so lucky to be able to exercise on foot from home. I go for long walks and love taking photos of what we’ve seen. Lockdown has seen one of the most beautiful seasons spring into life – pardon the pun – so I’ve recorded everything, and I send my photos to Margaret. It brings things she knows about but can’t get out to see into her home.

‘When we can, Margaret and I have a date to go to RHS Harlow Carr, which we haven’t been able to see in all its glory in 2020. Roll on that day!’


Tia rescue dogs at the beach - hoping for a grand reunion soon ....Tia rescue dogs at the beach - hoping for a grand reunion soon ....

Debra Rothery

Founder of Tia Rescue, an animal rescue charity based in Doncaster

‘Our world has been tipped onto its head and shaken about. All our charity shops had to close and the staff have been furloughed (our shops bring in well over half of our income); kennel and stable staff have had to adapt to social distancing and, throughout all this, our dogs, horses and assorted rescued farm animals still have to be tended to and loved.

‘Our outgoings are little changed, but our usual income stream has been decimated, so we have had to look at cutting costs and asking for help. Should we reduce our food orders? Can we foster any animals? Luckily, we have managed to get 40 greyhounds out into foster homes, which relieves the pressure.

‘We are still taking in abandoned greyhounds, and with the racing industry closed, our experience tells us that in the next few weeks, we will be rehoming many more. Our newest little greyhound, (we are calling her Shaky-knickers for now, as she is shaking with fright), can at least snuggle up in a cosy kennel where she is safe and no one will hurt her.’

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