We'll all never forget that feeling in March 2020 where it felt that the world was closing in around us.
On that Friday night before Mothering Sunday we both sat on the sofa and knew that the most responsible thing we could do to play our part in keeping ourselves and our wonderful community safe was to close our doors there and then. The following Monday, the whole country was placed into a national lockdown.
In the mix of the worries about a global pandemic we had absolutely no idea if our business that we loved so much, and put our hearts and souls, into would survive. It was such a worrying feeling and at this stage we really had no plan.
Then out of the blue one of our amazing customers got in touch with us, concerned about the survival of small indie businesses they suggested that we produced a print in the vein of the WW2 "Keep Calm and Carry On" ethos but with a Whitley Bay angle.
We got in touch with one of the fabulous artists we worked with, Whitley Bay's very own Lisa Kirkbride. Together we came up with the idea of a print design incorporating those two icons of the coast, the Spanish City Dome and St Mary's Lighthouse. It needed a message and knowing the hugely warm hearted and supportive community out there "Love Will Get Us Through" was born. There was one final touch needed and little knowing that it would become such a symbol of the pandemic a rainbow over the Dome and Lighthouse was added.
Like so many of us we wanted to be able to do something to help our amazing NHS who were under so much pressure. Lucy had a friend who worked into the NHS and suggested Northumbria Trust's Bright Charity that did wonderful work supporting both patients and staff and so we decided we would donate 25% of each print sold to the charity.
As we launched the print we both hoped that we might sell around thirty as we had no idea how they would go. Well just how wrong we were. One by one they started to sell, people who share posts about the print and all around Whitley Bay the message of "Love Will Get Us Through" would be displayed in windows.
People got in touch to ask if we would produce more prints featuring other locations around the North East and Lisa's creative head was very much in full flow.
A daily routine developed for us of a walk along our magnificent seafront to our shop in Spanish City where we would wrap and pack the orders. Paul would take the bags of envelopes to the Post Office each afternoon where it's fabulous staff would process the orders each day. Orders came from all over the UK and beyond from people locked down and unable to return to their beloved North East. Lucy would be in tears writing notes of love for families and friends who were missing each other so much.
Even though it was such a dark time the weather was so bright. At tea time we would walk the streets of Whitley Bay hand delivering local orders and it's still hard to describe that feeling of seeing the prints in people's windows and that huge feeling of warmth as people looked down on the doorstep and saw their parcels. It really felt that we were one big community.
We worked with some of our other artists on other designs marking those unprecedented times and used those fabulous folk at Northern Print Solutions for all of the printing. It was great that in a time where work for so many had ceased we could involve artists and manufacturers from around the region and give them work.
By the end of 2020 we had raised a staggering £10K for Northumbria NHS Bright Charity. It had exceeded all our expectations and cemented what an amazing community we had around us and that indeed love, will get us through.