Some people have spent the Covid-19 lockdown binge watching box sets, redecorating or gardening while being placed on furlough, but Welton couple Gareth Back and Charlotte Ashton decided to use the time to launch a new business venture.
Both in full time recruitment, Gareth and Charlotte found themselves on furlough in March 2020 with their son Noah, then just 10 months old, and their lively cockapoo Jarvis.
Gareth said: “Noah is not very good at napping so we needed something to keep us going during the day.”
The idea for making and selling concrete ornaments came after the couple saw some similar at a friends house, and thought they could make a go of a hobby on the side while they were on furlough.
Charlotte said: “We started just doing concrete letters that people could mix and match. I love buying things for the house and I thought I’d give them a go.”
And thus, Concrete Notes was born, set up in the couple's kitchen.
The couple started doing the letters just for friends and they became very popular, so they set up a website in September 2020, and now do a wide range of products, including decorative pine cones, stars, bust models, coasters, trinket trays and even candle holders.
“We love that they’ve got the rustic look, it’s an imperfect perfect look which makes each one unique,” Charlotte said.
Concrete Notes has gone from strength to strength since then, with hundreds of orders coming in from across the UK, with Jarvis being featured as the company mascot on their website.
To see their full collection, visit their website at www.concretenotes.co.uk/Having already established his own successful hairdressers and barbers, a Sleaford area businessman took the opportunity to set up not one, not two but FOUR new businesses during lockdown.
Luke Daniels is the owner of Luke’s Barbershop and Urban Angels hairdressers in Navenby, and during the first lockdown in Spring 2020 when hair salons weren’t allowed to open, started thinking of ways to keep busy.
“I was bored,” he said, “And by the time I’d spent a month gardening, I needed to do something.”
He then converted the salon to start selling luxury gelato and milk shakes, and Urban Gelato was a huge success with hundreds of orders per day.
“It just went crazy,” he said, “People were just starting to come out of their houses and the weather was perfect, we were so busy.”
The tea room in Navenby then closed, so Luke seized the opportunity to open Urban Kitchen, a unique cafe and tea room offering takeaway, delivery and click-and-collect options.
Not stopping there, Luke then saw the old doctors surgery in the village was up for sale and converted it into a ‘Huddle Room’ conferencing facility, rentable by the hour for people to communicate with others via a large, 120-degree camera and screen, instead of crowding around a laptop.
Luke’s brother, Jason has also come on board after he used his expertise in blind fitting to revamp Luke’s businesses, and they joined forces to launch Urban Blinds.
Now Luke has two more businesses in the pipeline, details of which will be released soon.
“It’s been amazing - for me we’ve become part of the village,” Luke said, “People would come and have a hot chocolate or a milkshake during their walks and it’s been nice.
“In life you have a purple patch and this has been mine. No-one owes you anything in life, you’ve got to go and get it yourself.”
As with many cultural enterprises, the We’ll Meet Again WW2 Museum, run by Paul and Linda Britchford in Freiston, had a very tough year in 2020 as government guidelines closed museums last year and many have to remain closed to this day.
The couple created the museum themselves from the ground up back in 2017 and boasts a vast collection of artefacts and clothing from both world wars, from genuine soldier’s uniforms and clothing from the periods to rations in their original packages - and even Sir Winston Churchill’s hole punch.
The museum, staffed entirely by dedicated volunteers, was under a very real threat of closure as the museum struggled to find government funding.
But luckily, just before lockdown, We’ll Meet Again introduced a virtual reality Lancaster Bomber flight experience, where guests can sit in the cockpit and take control of a world war two bomber.
The cockpit and virtual reality footage sees the participant take-off from RAF Coningsby and choose from a variety of flight plans, with the longest seeing the guest ‘fly’ all the way up to the Lake District and back, and was made possible with funding from the East Coast Community Fund and Tesco Bags for Life scheme.
Paul said that it was this incredible Lancaster bomber experience that has saved the museum.
“The Lancaster experience has been such a saving grace, people have still been buying flights for their friends and loved ones as presents.
“We’re so pleased we built it, it’s saved us.
“We will be working hard to get them booked in once we can reopen.”
The museum’s secretary, Peter Pimperton, also set up a crowdfunding page for the museum, which raised more than £2,000 to help keep the museum going.
“We really appreciate the donations from everyone, we just hope that people don’t forget about us and come back when we reopen,” Paul said.
Current roadmap guidelines out of the coronavirus pandemic allows museums to reopen on Monday May 17, and We'll Meet Again will be opening on Friday May 21, from 10am to 4pm.
To find out more, visit www.wmamuseum.co.uk/