‘IT’S as if the lifeblood is back.’

That was the reaction for many market traders when they returned to towns across the region today.

While some stalls offering essential food and services have kept turning up for outdoor markets during the lockdown, today was the first day when all stallholders were invited back.

In Darlington there was brisk trade and at Thirsk where the market charter was originally granted in 1145 the vast majority of stallholders were there. And a steady stream of customers turned out to support them.

During the lockdown, only one stall has regularly appeared for Thirsk’s weekly Monday market. Supervisor Andy Newlove said 14 arrived this week and three others only failed to turn up because they couldn’t get stock in time.

“It really is great to be back,” he said. “We have been looking and watching and seeing what was happening, and hopefully it’s going to grow from here.”

Some have had money from the government but for many it has been very difficult.

“We started going online,”said William Finan whose dad Michael has been running his garment stall in Hambleton’s markets for 41 years.

“I’ve been coming since I was a kid and it has been really hard, we couldn’t trade, we started online but it’s very slow.”

Dad Michael added: “It’s good to be back and everyone has been so positive we haven’t had one negative comment. We just want everyone to be safe, and hopefully people will be encouraged to shop local.”

Customer Helen Wrightson, 95, said: “It is so nice to see the stalls open again it’s as if the lifeblood is back, that’s what they are to the region. I am all for them being open again.”

Fellow customer Pam Bradley added: “It is lovely to see the market here again, we have missed it. And I don’t have any concerns everyone is keeping a distance, it if was bigger it could have been more difficult but it is being run very well.”

Ruth English of Winnies Yorkshire Delights who makes her own chutneys, jams and preserves was delighted.

“It is still difficult. I can’t hand out samples but it is lovely to be here. It has been really hard for the past two months and before that the bad weather. I’ve sent my preserves to Boris Johnson and our MP Rishi Sunak – it is so important to get some normality back.”

Battery and watch stallholder Cliff Bowers added: “I’ve enjoyed it. I’ve been doing this for 43 years and its been relaxing but it is really good to be back making money.”