Delay to lifting lockdown would prolong mental and financial anguish says Todmorden firm

Delays to the roadmap towards lifting lockdown restrictions would further prolong financial and mental anguish, a catering business in Todmorden has warned.

Phil and Sue Kershaw are hoping for brighter days once the lockdown is lifted.

The Travelling Pig Hog Roast Company has been hit hard by restrictions introduced to limit the spread of Covid-19.

The business was founded by Phil and Sue Kershaw 15 years ago and has so far managed to cling on throughout the pandemic but it fears that further delays to lifting of restrictions will make the road to recovery even tougher.

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Mr Kershaw told The Yorkshire Post: “The impact on us financially and our mental wellbeing has been horrendous. It’s hard to describe.

“There’s times where I could just burst into tears over it with the stress and worrying. I’ve got to try and protect my wife and protect my son and people that are involved with us. You’re trying to carry that weight and keep going forward.

“There’s the mental anguish and then there’s the financial side. It will take us years to recover from this. We ended up spending all of our life savings.”

Mr Kershaw is 56 while his wife Sue is 61. Both of them were looking forward to slowing down as they got older but those plans have disappeared now.

The couple have only been receiving 40 per cent of their income from the Government’s support scheme leading to a “massive shortfall”.

Mr Kershaw said: “We pay part of our income as a dividend and they’ve not allowed that to be included. We’re not some massive company, we’re just a little family company. We haven’t been getting the furlough that normal people have been getting.”

That’s why, Mr Kershaw says, it is important that the reopening of the country goes ahead on June 21. The Travelling Pig Hog Roast Company currently has its first booking for June 24.

The business, which usually caters for around 100 events a year, has only catered at one event for 30 people since coronavirus hit Britain.

In that time, Mr and Mrs Kershaw have been trying to keep themselves busy by researching and developing craft sauces.

Mr Kershaw said: “Once we know where we stand, I’d like to launch that. Trying to do that on a limited budget has been very difficult.

“We’re now at the stage where we need some money coming in from our business and be back on our own two feet so that we can release a little bit of money to have a part of the business where we make our own sauce.

“The one thing that has kept us sane is coming into our unit and making batch after batch of sauce until we feel like we have perfected it.”

January, February and March is the quiet period for The Travelling Pig Hog Roast Company and the time it has to fulfill bookings keeps shrinking the longer the restrictions are in place.

“Our window of opportunity to work is getting smaller and smaller as they push it back,” Mr Kershaw says. “Come Christmas there’s not going to be much after that for us.”

His message to the Government is that it has to lift restrictions on June 21 given the vaccination drive and lower number of cases. He said: “There’s no excuse anymore. Everybody has done what they have been asked to do. Enough is enough now.”

The business has bookings all the way into 2022. While volumes aren’t what they used to be, there are enough for The Travelling Pig Hog Roast Company to stand on its own two feet but time is of the essence.

Mr Kershaw said: “I try to be positive for my wife’s sake and my family’s sake but to be honest with you I could just sit here and cry.”

Butcher who turned to catering

Phil Kershaw was a butcher before he and his wife set up The Travelling Pig Hog Roast Company.

Mr Kershaw, who is originally from Oldham, said: “I was a time served butcher. I owned butchers shops.

“Obviously with the high street changing, where people have moved from butchers shops to supermarkets, is why I set up Travelling Pig Hog Roast Company.

“We started predominantly just doing hog roasts, doing public trade.

“Then my wife and myself changed it to what it has become where we do carveries, barbecues, buffets, a full package for people.”

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