“THERE were quite a lot of hills, but it was a good workout.”

Edward Munro is describing his latest mammoth cycling challenge.

The physical demands would make many wince, but Mr Munro doesn’t bat an eyelid.

As we speak, he reveals he’s just finished a 117-mile stamina test, those steep inclines he mentions adding a devilish edge to proceedings.

We all have our release valves, a hobby or practice that provides calming mental distraction from the world of employment, and Mr Munro has certainly found his.

“Living at Great Broughton, at the base of the Cleveland Hills, means I have a great setting for hitting the roads,” he says.

“I’m not really into gyms, so I took up cycling.

“I do a lot of rides between 60 and 80 miles and in the summer that gets ramped up a bit.

“It clears the mind and is a big stress reliever.”

At work, he is joint managing director at Country Valley Foods alongside brother James, the business having been co-founded by their father Stewart more than 40 years ago.

Based in Billingham, near Stockton, it focuses on providing fresh and frozen meats, as well as ambient, dried, chilled, frozen and janitorial goods to the food service trade.

Restaurants, hotels, schools, care homes, and even Middlesbrough Football Club all feature on its customer list, with deliveries stretching from the M62 corridor right up to the Scottish borders.

The impact of ITV show I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here! has also helped fuel demand, with the annual programme driving interest for more exotic meats, such as crocodile, kangaroo and ostrich.

However, Mr Munro said he expects the business’ momentum to be further augmented through its connection to a buying co-operative.

Country Valley Foods, awarded AA status by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) on its first assessment by the trade association, is now a member of the Sterling Supergroup.

The organisation is made up of family-owned wholesale companies that supply thousands of catering outlets, and Mr Munro says the benefits are obvious.

However, he says they become even more compelling when an improving economy is factored into the equation.

He said: “The business is starting to have a bit of an uplift.

“There has been a lot of uncertainty around Brexit and around prices with the euro, but it seems to have levelled itself out a bit.

“There seems to be a lot more businesses opening in the area too, which is always a good indicator of the economy getting brighter.

“Being part of the Sterling Supergroup will allow us to be more competitive and it is going to open up some good opportunities.”

Mr Munro also pointed to the firm’s strong BRC rating, which emphasises its quality across areas including food preparation, packaging, and storage and distribution.

He added: “We are aware that firms would normally work towards this status, so we are incredibly proud to have attained it straight away.

“Being recognised by the BRC is an honour in itself, so getting AA standard on our first attempt is fantastic.

“It also gives the people in the catering industry trust in us that we are a business with integrity, and that we always operate at a high standard.”

Five minutes with… Edward Munro

Favourite North-East building and why? Whorlton Castle, in Swainby. I loved playing there as a child.

What was your first job and how much did you get paid? Pot washer at the Sutton Arms, in Elton, when I was 14. I was paid £4 per hour.

What is the worst job you've had? I’ve never had a job I didn’t enjoy, although working in our freezers can get very cold, which is a nightmare in the winter.

What would you cook for me if I came around for dinner? It would have to be a bone-in rib of beef and Yorkshire puddings with all the trimmings for a long Sunday lunch, not forgetting an Italian bottle of red.

What would your superpower be? Reading minds, who wouldn’t love that?

Name four people, dead or alive, who would be at your perfect dinner party: Noel Gallagher, George Best, Jimmy Carr and Margot Robbie.

Most expensive thing you've bought - other than car or house - and how much? Not necessarily the most expensive, but the most loved, is my road cycle. It was way too much.

Who is the best person to follow on Twitter and why? Bob Mortimer. I cannot read his posts without laughing out loud.

Favourite book? Mr Nice, by Howard Marks.

When did you last cry? At the loss of my grandmother. She was a fantastic woman and I was incredibly sad when she passed away.

What is your greatest achievement? Seeing the completion of our new factory. It was the culmination of one year of life and work.

What's the best piece of advice in business you've ever been given? You make your own luck. It’s so true.

Favourite animal and why? Monkeys. They are full of cheek and fun.

Most famous person on your mobile phone? Andrew Tennent and Stuart Morris, both world champion cyclists.

What was the last band you saw live? The Riots. Actually, they’re not the last band I saw, but they were the best.

Describe your perfect night in: The stove burning, my wife Kate and two kids on the sofa, with a film on the TV.

In another life I would be... Born in the Alps, cycling in the summer and skiing in the winter.

Who would play you in a film of your life? Colin Farrell. Nobody else has eyebrows like ours.

What irritates you? Indecision.

What's your secret talent? Falling off my bike, but that’s not really a secret.