Britain's Conservative chairman found out how Copeland businesses have been adapting and sometimes flourishing during lockdown.

Amanda Milling MP joined Copeland’s MP Trudy Harrison and mayor Mike Starkie for a visit to the Sawmill in Nether Wasdale on Saturday.

The visit provided a chance to meet staff and discuss more about the struggles and challenges that come with opening and running a new business during a global pandemic.

Formerly a working sawmill, the cafe, situated on the River Irt, was bought by Julius Manduell and family in 2016 who converted the mill and restored many of its original features including a watermill which hadn’t turned for more than 50 years.

Mrs Harrison said: “It is always a privilege to highlight local businesses to ministers and the Sawmill is a fabulous example of hard work and determination, restoring an old unused building and giving it a completely new lease of life.

“Complete with stunning views and delicious home cooked food, I am already looking forward to returning soon and commend the incredibly hard work of Julius and the staff; despite a challenging beginning, it’s brilliant to see another thriving business.”

Serving a range of hot and cold light bites, cakes, coffees, teas and ice cream, as well as a selection of locally sourced produce in the farm shop, the business has already started building up a steady flow of regulars since officials opening in July.

Mr Manduell said: “The vision remains unchanged; to deliver wonderful looking and tasting food showcasing the best of local produce while supporting local and smaller producers and suppliers both in the cafe and farm shop. It is a unique building with the mill race running through the centre and a working water wheel, there is little comparable elsewhere in the Lake District National Park.

“I regard it as a true entrepreneurial effort which has brought and is bringing significant revenue to many local businesses as well as the local economy more widely and has created a number of good jobs.

“Unfortunately, Covid-19 meant that the planned opening had to be delayed and while some staff had been recruited, further job creation was put on hold. Finally, in late June the shop and cafe opened initially as a take-away and then from 4 July visitors were allowed to sit in and enjoy the full ambience of this stunning location.”

Mayor Mr Starkie said: “I was pleased to be invited to visit The Sawmill, and it is fantastic to see a new business open its doors in Copeland.

“Local businesses need our support the most in these challenging times, and I’d urge our residents to shop local, support this new venture, and back our borough’s business community.”

The visit, part of a UK wide tour also saw the Minister visit businesses in Barrow-In-Furness and Workington.

Ms Milling said: said: “I know Trudy is working hard with businesses right across Copeland as they try to recover from this unprecedented period.

“Here and across the country, the Government is doing what it can to help businesses and workers get back to work in the best and safest way.

As part of the visit, Copeland borough and county councillors were also invited to meet the minister.

Gosforth and Seascale councillor Paul Turner said: “It’s really nice to see the Sawmill as a completed building. Being on the planning authority that gave it permission all we usually see is flat plans and architects concept drawings so It’s good to see the completed building is true to the design offered to us and that the recommendations we made have been implemented.

“As the county councillor for the area, it’s nice to see old buildings become new businesses which in turn bring both locals and tourists to a quieter part of the Lake District where they may not have visited previously.”