Olympic athlete Christine Ohuruogu joined Graeme Swann to fire the starting gun in this year's Great North Run.
She spoke to ITV News about the pressure of getting the procedure right in front of 56,000 people.
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"I would personally like to thank the local community for their amazing donations of food, toiletries and clothing. "
Owners John and Irene Hays say there is ''light at the end of the tunnel'', after the pandemic forced them to close 650 UK stores.
There has been resistance to calls to dismantle memorials to the explorer.