It was the chorus of the sing-along Pantomime song some years back, accompanied by framing hand gestures, that we all sang along to with great gusto. That was back in the time when Jill Wilkinson was parking her little van, carefully renovated by her dad Trevor, down the bank near to the Gift Shop, as well as at other places (Haydon Bridge, for example) during the week.
After the nice piece on Jill’s Catering enterprise in this week’s Hexham Courant, I realised I’d better get my skates on and ensure we get a proper mention in the diary. So I dropped in to the weekend café, had a little chat, and picked up a copy of Jill’s special deliveries leaflet. No longer parking up to sell her homemade wares, Jill now delivers orders throughout the valleys, having built up her customer base over the years. And the café was so wholesomely appointed, with happy customers — I didn’t stay long so as not to intrude on the business, of course!
With the work engaging some five staff now, Jill caters for many local funerals, as well as for celebrations and parties. I recall serving behind the bar at Allendale Village Hall while Jill and her staff laid out tables full of refreshments for several funeral teas. Always efficient and professional, it was a delight to serve together in these times of community grief.
It’s fair to reproduce Jill’s Catering tag lines from her delivery leaflet, I think: “Homemade nutritious ready meals and puddings produced using fresh ingredients, frozen and conveniently packaged in microwavable containers.” So, food delivered ‘just as it says on the tin’. Well, not tin, of course, but containers you can pop in your microwave and have a steaming hot meal in minutes. What a service for shut-ins!
And the friendly staff must brighten folks’ days when they arrive with the ready meals, bringing a ray of cheerful sunshine with them. Orders are probably best placed by phone on 07957 571885, as listed on the delivery leaflet and Jill’s Catering facebook page.
As the piece in the Courant says, the business has been steadily growing from its humble beginnings as a roadside food van, and Jill’s Catering is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year.
With its broad and beautiful views over the East Allen valley, the café cum kitchen is a weekend delight, and the business as a whole looks good for many years to come.