A West Cumbrian hospitality business has been supporting key workers and stranded international students during the coronavirus lockdown.

Summergrove Halls, in Hensingham, normally provides accommodation for students at the nearby UCLan medical campus at Westlakes Science Park as well officers in training with Civil Nuclear Constabulary and an increasing number special interest visitor groups such as C2C cyclists.

But, like the rest of the hospitality industry, all that business disappeared in 72 hours in March as the Government introduced lockdown measures.

Two international students from Dubai and Indonesia were left stranded as their home countries closed their borders.

Management at Summergrove Halls decided they could not close, leaving them homeless in the UK.

After making adaptations, within a week it was opening its doors to provide accommodation to doctors and nurses drafted in to West Cumberland Hospital.

Another week later and Summergrove had responded to a call from Copeland mayor Mike Starkie to help meet the council’s temporary accommodation needs during the crisis.

Eight weeks on and Summergrove is still providing a home to the two students.

While most staff but have been furloughed a small team are looking after the guests including providing with meals. By the third week, the kitchens were also providing a takeaway service to local residents.

Angela Lynch works on reception. She said: "It was the right thing to do. These key workers have been have come into Cumbria to help us and the need was there for temporary accommodation.

"We are less than half full and with 130 en suite rooms we have enough to keep our residents spaced out there is minimum contact.

"We have also cut the capacity of the restaurant in half to make sure we can meet all the social distancing guidance."

Tom Hillier 26, of Millom, has been working in the kitchens at Summergrove for three years.

He has stayed on site during the crisis.

He said: "I’m glad I have been able to do my bit in keeping people who have been battling the virus on the frontline well fed."

"It is a tough time but we think we have been providing an essential service.

Director Rob Rimmer said: "Our staff plus the cleaning team from Britton Hillary have all stepped up to the plate and have been brilliant throughout but we have only been able to keep going thanks to help from the Government’s furlough scheme and from Copeland Council, plus support from our bankers at NatWest and our landlords at the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.

"We think it means we will be able to come back stronger when this is all behind us."