UK (Sky News)

Coronavirus: The cheese craftsman turned milkman to help Northern Ireland’s isolated neighbours

By September 20, 2020 No Comments

He would normally be producing artisan cheese for the high-end market, the Royal Family among his customers. 

Instead, Dean Wright is delivering milk and other necessities to the doorsteps of isolated neighbours in Northern Ireland.

The fifth-generation farmer from Ballylisk in County Armagh believes COVID-19 will lead to a restoration of old traditions.

Life in lockdown
Image:Royal Portrush which hosted golf legends Tiger Woods and Rory Mcllroy at The Open last year

He said: “Whenever I was a child, we used to have a milkman, we used to have a breadman, we used to have a fishmonger and the postman.

“Those were four people who used to regularly call… and this is exactly the sort of service that we’re trying to put back on the map again.”

Last summer, Dean was catering for the biggest names in golf – Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy – at The Open in Royal Portrush, County Antrim.

Dean Wright
Image:Dean supplies customers within a 10-mile radius of his farm in County Armagh

Now he’s donning his white coat, protective gloves and hair net each evening to load his van with milk, eggs and potatoes.

He is supplying customers within a 10-mile radius of his 400-acre farm and is the only contact some have with the outside world right now.

He explained: “It’s a social thing, especially for rural dwellers, to have produce from a local farm delivered to their door.

“We’re in lockdown, there’s vulnerable people, there’s elderly people who cannot get to local stores to get their daily necessities.”

Dean Wright
Image:Dean preparing to make another delivery to a family in lockdown

Dean, who hopes his daughters will be the sixth generation to farm the land, had to respond quickly when 70% of his business disappeared.

With less demand for his award-winning craft cheese, he decided to pasteurise milk from his own farm and take it on the road.

Sasha is a self-employed photographer. In the lockdown work has dried up. So she decided to do something different.
Sasha Treanor is a self-employed photographer. In the lockdown work has dried up. So she decided to do something different.

He said: “I wasn’t prepared to let my business fail over this and I had always dreamt of restoring these traditions, and this was the right time to do it.

“When 45,000 people responded to our Facebook post about delivering supplies, I felt energised about the whole project.”

It is a cashless service, paid for online or by phone, limiting physical contact with customers concerned about infection.

Dean said: “I think the long-term effect will be that people may go back to buying local food produced by their local farm.

“We will continue to bring these items to the community long after we get out of the troubled waters we are in.”


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