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Willow Tree Farm shop in Glemsford expands workforce to cope with unprecedented rise in demand following coronavirus outbreak




A family-run business in Glemsford has increased its workforce threefold to meet an unprecedented rise in demand during the coronavirus outbreak.

Michael and Deborah Russell, owners of Willow Tree Farm shop in Lower Road, have had to adapt their business – which provides an extensive range of food items – with a delivery and collection service, while ensuring stock is constantly replenished in store.

Hailing the collective efforts of their expanded workforce, Mrs Russell said: “We have been so well supported – we couldn’t have done it without the fantastic team we have.”

The team at Willow Tree Farm Shop have been working hard to provide essential goods for customers during lockdown....Pictured: Claire Wheeler, Matthew Russell with parents Deborah and Michael ....PICTURE: Mecha Morton .... (34557509)
The team at Willow Tree Farm Shop have been working hard to provide essential goods for customers during lockdown....Pictured: Claire Wheeler, Matthew Russell with parents Deborah and Michael ....PICTURE: Mecha Morton .... (34557509)

A large number of university students, with experience of working in the shop, have rejoined the team.

Praising the vital support of the workforce, the couple’s son, Matthew, who manages the store, said: “We are fortunate that we have so many local helpers – we have a fantastic set of staff.”

The 33-year-old joined his parents’ business working full-time at 18, before securing a managerial role 10 years ago.

Michael Russell, who is responsible for growing fresh produce on the family’s farm, has been lending a helping hand in store.

A series of health and safety measures have been implemented in the shop, including the use of protective personal equipment (PPE), along with hand sanitizer gel for customers to apply before entering the store.

Mrs Russell said the protective measures had been well-received by customers.

“We have had some wonderful reviews,” she said.”They all say how safe they feel to come in.”

The team have been left humbled after receiving thank-you cards and online messages from customers, who have expressed their gratitude for the business’s vital service.

“We are overwhelmed; it’s just heart-warming,” said Mrs Russell.

Although plans to open a new cafe on site have had to be put on hold, the team are exploring the possibility of operating a takeaway service once the kitchen facilities are fully operational.


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