ONE of the North-East’s longest-established motor dealers has been praised for its role in supporting North-East communities during the coronavirus pandemic.

Sherwoods Motor Group has donated three vans to deliver personal protection (PPE) equipment to NHS workers, speed up the delivery of prescriptions to vulnerable people, and help collect food from supermarkets for a food bank.

Sherwoods was established as a family business in the 1920s, and last year acquired the Springfield Motor Group – incorporating Peugeot, Citroen, and Suzuki franchises at Gateshead – as well as taking over Durham Peugeot.

The deal also included a large mechanical workshop, bodyshop and used car outlet at Washington.

Sherwoods managing director Simon MacConachie said: “It has been fantastic to see how everyone is pulling together during this crisis and we wanted to do our bit. We employ a lot of people with families who rely on the NHS, so we want to do whatever we can to help.

“We had some demonstrator vans available and it made complete sense to put them to the best possible use for however long the lockdown lasts.”

The company took to social media to offer support to organisations which needed help with transport, and the result was three Sherwoods vans being put to invaluable use in the community:

  • One is being used by the Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust to deliver PPE equipment in Tyne and Wear
  • Another has been loaned to County Durham-based Knights Pharmacy to deliver prescriptions to self-isolating or shielding patients
  • The third is helping The Friends of Eastwoods Park, in Prudhoe, to supply a foodbank in Prudhoe.

Russ Greig, project manager at The Friends of Eastwoods Park, described Sherwoods’ support as “a Godsend”.

“The use of the Sherwoods’ van has been absolutely invaluable – it’s enabled us to help so many more vulnerable people than would otherwise have been the case, and we are so grateful,” said Russ.

With the use of the van, Russ and his team have been able to deliver more than 35 food parcels – comprising 210 meals a week – to vulnerable people.

Over the Easter weekend, the van was used to collect 100 food parcels from Age UK, in Ashington, which were delivered to elderly people on behalf of Prudhoe Town Council

In addition, 500 Easter eggs were delivered to children across the town, as well as two residential homes, with Russ wearing a giant teddy bear costume to raise some smiles.

Pete Horrocks, of Knights Pharmacy, said: “We have seen a significant increase in patients wanting to stay at home and we support them by delivering prescriptions, but we were already up to capacity with our own vehicles.

“The donation of the van by Sherwoods has enabled us to take out another 30-40 deliveries a day which is invaluable. Not only is it supporting more vulnerable people but it’s also protecting our staff by reducing the number of people going into the pharmacies.”

Although Sherwoods’ dealerships are closed during the lockdown, the company’s Washington site, on the Crowther Industrial Estate, has remained open for vehicle repairs for key workers.

Customers using the site include specialist healthcare couriers 1NE Logistics, and IAS Medical ambulance service.