LIVE streaming and virtual bidding is here to stay, says the boss of a Carlisle livestock auctioneers.

In his last weekly diary, Richard Rankin, CEO of H&H Group says coronavirus ushered in a new era and lockdown accelerated the company's adoption of 21st Century marketing solutions."This is the future, and will continue to revolutionise livestock trading. As lockdown eases, we will provide the platforms for vital face-to-face interactions and social exchange at the marts, but continue to enhance and develop our digital solutions," said Richard.

"As a business we also had to come to terms with taking away a lifeline for the farmers – their local auction marts. We were forced to close our spaces of social interaction, stopping them reaching out to their comrades and friends. People couldn’t just pop into the marts, or even see their animals sold, which was absolutely gutting, as I know how important the mart is to the community. I fear for the long term impact this might have on mental health and wellbeing and look forward to feeling the buzz and hearing the crack around the rings and in the café again soon."

Richard paid tribute to his teams. "It’s been said many times by many people, the furlough scheme was a lifesaver for businesses. However, for the customers and the people, it has taken its toll. I know many of our H&H staff have felt isolated, cut off, and feeling less valued. We had no option but to take this measure to protect the longevity of the business, but I am fully aware how very very hard it has been. So, in this my final column, I would like to thank them personally for their understanding and their patience. Now it feels like we’re coming out of it, we can feel proud of how we all came together to make it through."