It’s a strange feeling at Shepherds Purse today.
The Great Yorkshire Show has kicked off and we made the incredibly difficult decision not to be there this year. Our decision was made a week ago based on the rising cases in the region and the potential impact on our team, due to the particular logistics of the way that we do the Great Yorkshire Show. It’s a personal decision to us here and all things considered we felt like it was right for us to err on the side of caution.
In the same vein, we decided that it was not sensible for me to travel down to the Specialist Cheesemakers Weekend last weekend- a weekend for the cheesemaking community that I was hugely looking forward to. We have particular circumstances here, as well as cases rising in the region, Mum (Judy) is going through chemo at the moment, so we are all incredibly mindful of always erring on the side of caution. I am living with Mum so I have to be even more careful at this stage of her treatment. However, despite all this “reason”, I was, and am, incredibly sad to be missing both events.
And then, after all these decisions had already been made, on Sunday morning we heard that one of our team from our packing department tested positive for COVID. Despite taking a lateral flow test on Friday that was negative, they took another on Saturday which was positive, they then went for a PCR test and on Sunday we heard that it was positive. We let everyone know and formed a plan. Those who had worked close to them took a test, and currently the situation is 3 positive cases and anyone who worked with them or who were in proximity to them (within 1m for one minute or 2m for 15 minutes throughout the day, if they were in a mask or not) are isolating for 10 days. We informed our local council’s Health and Safety team and have worked with them on the plan, we’ll continue to work closely with them as we monitor the situation. The good news is that at the moment the symptoms that those who have tested positive are experiencing are mild and we hope they are back to 100% ASAP.
The further impact here, due to the number of people isolating, is that we’ve had to cancel the remainder of cheesemaking this week and redeploy that team elsewhere, we’ve had to close down our web packing team and are in the process of letting customers know where they may be impacted. Again, I couldn’t be prouder of how our team have pulled together to face the challenge and how supportive our customers and suppliers have been.
We hope that we have nipped it in the bud here, although we recognise it’s early days, but it’s hard to see that even if this one is nipped in the bud, there won’t be repeat occurrences of this over the next month or two as the country opens up. When we went for Jude’s chemo consultation this morning we learned that there are now 4 wards full of COVID patients again at our local hospital (to give context, they had been down to one ward before this last few weeks, and at the peak they were at 14), so admissions, along with cases, appear to be increasing at quite a rate again.
If your cheese has been delayed, we’re sorry, we will all be working our socks off back here to make sure that we get it to you ASAP and we'll be updating everyone as we journey through this latest set of challenges.
Thank you for your continued support.