Jennifer Horton, The Corbridge Larder
Meet some real-life heroes in my series of special interviews with people who represent the spirit and heart of the North East.
Jennifer Horton is the owner of The Corbridge Larder, a food hall and deli based in the historic market town of Corbridge, in Northumberland. The Larder has products of premium quality that are locally-sourced where possible. During the pandemic, they have supplied groceries to nominated front-line workers, sent out bulk supplies to local care home workers, and provided shopping for families in deprived areas.
In this interview, Jen tells us about buying the Larder in 2015, her North East heroes, and more…
Jen, please tell us a bit about you and your connection with the North East.I moved to the North East twenty-five years ago. Originally, I thought I would eventually move back to Scotland (my birthplace) but I fell in love with the region and the people, so have put down my roots here. Being close to the border is also a bonus, so I can get my Scottish fix whenever I want!
Tell us about The Corbridge Larder and its role in the community, especially during the last year.The Corbridge Larder is a Deli and cafe in the historic village of Corbridge in the heart of Northumberland. When I moved to the North East, I used to enjoy day trips to Corbridge and it always included a visit to the Larder, which sold lovely foodie treats. In recent years, however, the Larder had become run down and was a shadow of its former self. So, when it came up for sale, Bob, my husband, and I decided to buy it and turn it back into the foodie heaven it once had been! It has taken a few years to achieve this, but we now have a bustling shop that believes in community and shopping local. We champion local suppliers (and there are many fabulous ones in this region) and we care about our customers. This ethic really hit home during the past year with the Covid pandemic. The team pulled together to ensure we could stay open and support the community. We were a voice at the end of a phone, we delivered shopping to those that couldn’t get out, we sourced products that people were after so we could be a one stop shop and we were a friendly face for those alone. We also love a challenge, so when you, Louise, asked if we could help you to distribute groceries to those in need, we jumped at the chance! As a result of your generosity, we managed to get much needed shopping to hospital staff who were facing empty supermarket shelves, care home workers in the local care homes, and children from deprived areas. Not only did this really help the Larder through these tough times, but we had the joy of seeing the faces of people who literally were unsure where their meals were going to come from. Our two amazing drivers (my step son, Rik, and David, the co-owner of Northumbrian Pantry) both said they were humbled by the response to what we were doing.
The work you have done for the Larder is absolutely fantastic and it really is a real foodie heaven, as you say! The community work you have done in the last year has been so important and thanks for all your help in distributing food to those in need.
I’m all about local businesses supporting one another. Do you have a favourite shop or business you think everyone should know about in the region?Gosh, we are extremely lucky in Corbridge to have so many independent shops and it is a joy shopping in them. It is hard to just pick one out as they all offer something a bit different but, if I had to, we recently had a new ‘Larder baby’ – well done Debs! – and Baby at the Bank was just the ticket to purchase baby gifts that were a bit different. I’m wanting more babies in my life now so I have an excuse to buy some more!
A great recommendation! What about your favourite place to visit in the North East that you’d recommend to others?I love the sea, and the coastline of the North East is just breathtaking! I particularly love Craster and walking to the ruined castle of Dunstanburgh always blows the cobwebs away. Follow this up with a meal at Craster Fish restaurant that has panoramic views of the North Sea and finally, purchasing Craster Kippers from Robson’s to take back to the Larder – the perfect day!
Sounds like a perfect day indeed! It’s often said that the people and landscapes of the North East are full of ‘spirit’ and ‘heart’. What do you love most about the region?I have to say the people. It is a well-worn phrase, but people of the North East really are the ’salt of the Earth’. They are warm-hearted, have a wry sense of humour but do not suffer fools! When needed, they will protect what is dear to them and they will always get through ordeals by pulling together and getting on with it. Nothing ever holds them down for long.
I couldn’t agree more! What three words best describe the North East to you?‘Rugged’, ‘Tranquil’, ‘Uplifting’.
What about your Favourite North-Eastern slang? What does it mean?‘Am clamming’ – I’m hungry.
Who are your North East heroes?Firstly, you, Louise, are a philanthropic angel; the Freeman hospital (Bob had a kidney transplant in 2017 and the Freeman have been amazing in their care); Tynedale Hospice at Home (we lost my brother to Liver cancer in 2019 and managed to keep him at home due to their wonderful, caring staff); and finally, my team, who have been part of the amazing front-line workers that have kept the region and country moving.
That’s very kind of you to say, and the others definitely sound like North East heroes who shape people’s lives every single day.
As a final point, Jen, what makes you smile?A lot of things make me smile but some are: Wendy, my manager, a typical Geordie who never fails to make me smile; our customers – we have many regulars that make us hoot with laughter; being surrounded by friends and family; but mostly, living in this stunning region – I count my blessings every day.
Thank you so much for joining me! I can’t wait to head back to the Larder for another slice of coffee and walnut cake..!
Special thanks to Kate Baguley for helping to coordinate these special interviews, and to Donna-Lisa Healy for the portrait shots!