Torquay couple Katie and Neil Harper decided to ‘split up’ - but just for Lockdown, of course

Katie and Neil Harper decided to live ‘separate’ lives - in the same house - so she could carry on her key worker role at a Torquay supermarket.

Katie, 49, who works at Asda, divided her house into two during lockdown to shield Neil, 57, and allow her to carry on making sure her customers were fed and her family were safe.

The couple, who have four children, created a dedicated space for Neil at one end of the house and put their own social distancing and hygiene measures in place to prevent him coming into contact with the rest of the family.

He had his own coffee machine, meals delivered to the door and a Wii Fit to help him exercise, with everyone taking precautions such as regularly cleaning surfaces and hands.

Katie removes her uniform and washes it as soon as she gets home.

She said: “I saw everyone working so hard, there was no question I had to help. I love my job and I just couldn’t think of being at home for all that time.”

Now reunited with Neil, she says: “It’s not the same as me being in a different place, but we’ve been married for 25 years and this is the longest we’ve spent apart.”

As Neil usually takes Katie to and from work, this also meant she had a half hour walk every day to continue her role on the checkout, but the store has been very understanding and flexible with her shifts.

Katie said: “One night I was walking home and someone shouted ‘thank you ’to me from over the road. There have been people in store saying ‘thank you ’and you realise the job you’re doing really matters. It’s not just me who has had to adapt, we’ve all come together and played our part.”

Store manager Daniel Wildin said: “Katie has shown real dedication to her role and her colleagues, whilst making sure her family are safe, well and cared for.

“We’re all proud of how determined she has been to change her day-to-day life to enable her to continue working here.”