For many of us, February half term breaks up the monotony of the post Christmas blues and after being back at work and school for a month or so, we get to spend some quality family time again. Family is important to us here at Tebay. We are first and foremost a family business and as in any good family there are firm guiding principles carried from one generation to the next. Our family of staff share our values and are passionate about what we sell and the services we provide. However we grow, we all share a sense of what is important to us.
Our story began in 1972 when John and Barbara Dunning, local farmers, set up Tebay Services in partnership with local bakers when the new M6 cut through the Tebay Gorge. We were the first family run motorway service station on the UK road network. At its heart was a small 30 seat café serving home cooked, locally sourced food. Forty years on and the business has passed to John and Barbara's daughter, Sarah. Despite this big change we are still here, still family owned, still farming and still with a fierce passion for, and a pride in, our landscape, our people, our environment and its products.
At Tebay we are lucky enough to work with lots of local family businesses and over the years have seen them grow and develop into fabulous producers. Here is just a small selection of some of our family suppliers.
Country Fare is an award-winning family bakery based on a working farm in the Mallerstang Valley, Cumbria. Surrounded by stunning scenery, they make delicious, award-winning handmade produce including many different takes on a traditional fruit cake. All of their handmade fruit cakes are based on two tried and tested family recipes and use only the finest ingredients, including free-range eggs, local butter and milk. Finding something all the family can enjoy can be pretty tricky. Country Fare make this a little easier with their 'Afternoon Tea' boxes packed full of sponge cakes, fruit cakes, biscuits and traybakes – the perfect family treat!
Frugi are a children's organic cotton brand based in Cornwall. Husband and wife team Kurt and Lucy started the company 11 years ago when they had their first baby. They wanted to use cloth nappies but struggled to find clothes to fit over them! So they began designing their own clothes that would fit over the nappies and Frugi was born. All of their clothes are made using organic cotton which makes them super soft and great for children with sensitive skin. We get reports from customers who say how well the clothing washes, and that they have passed it down to their younger children. Our lifestyle buyer Helen Sellwood says
"I love working with Frugi because they are a young, enthusiastic brand who produce fun and colourful designs in-house each season. The quality is fantastic and they are always developing their ranges. For Spring/Summer 2015 my favourite pieces include ‘The woodland festival party dress' which has illustrations of tipis, caravans and bunting. It is so pretty and shouts summer! A great unisex piece is their staple ‘Little snuggle fleece' which is reversible and so cosy. We buy this every season, but this year's design is blue with white ducks, so very fitting for Tebay with our duck pond!”
The Chain Bridge Honey Farm is a flourishing family business, started by beekeeping advisor William Selby Robson in the late 1940s. After leaving school, his son, also William but known as Willie, chose to take up beekeeping with the aim of expanding his father's enterprise, not only by increasing the number of hives, but also the diversity of products. Today Willie, with his beekeeper son Stephen, keep almost 2,000 hives of bees, all within a 40-mile radius of the honey farm, just west of Berwick-upon-Tweed. It's not often you'll find one of our suppliers in both our lifestyle shop and among the fresh produce in our farmshop, but specialising in natural honey products Chainbridge make everything from honeycombs to beeswax soap.
Herdy has its heart set in the Lake District, and are inspired by their namesake, the equally loveable Herdwick sheep. The company was created in 2007 by husband and wife duo, Spencer and Diane Hannah to offer visitors to the Lake District a choice of responsibly produced high quality, giftware. We caught up with Spencer and Diane about the role of family businesses in our local area,
"As a local family business ourselves, it's always great to work with other family businesses - in Cumbria and further afield; particularly when they are an ethical business like us. We believe that family businesses are often at the heart of the community, and play an important role in supporting the local economy and providing jobs. This is particularly important in our rural location."
As well as family values, good design is at the core of the Herdy business and all products are designed from scratch at the company's base in Kendal. Each year Herdy donates a percentage of profits to the Herdy Fund; a charitable fund that supports upland fell farming, rural community projects and of course the Herdwick sheep.
If you are a local producer or supplier and think we could forge a fruitful partnership, please do get in touch here.
In spite of the snow our ducks are out in full force so don't forget to #duckin and see them if you're passing this February. Send us your pictures of your stop at Tebay or whatever you end up getting up to this half term on our Facebook and Twitter pages, and tag us using #duckin