WAREHOUSE manager Brian Wilkes may be the coolest man in Gwent today, despite the soaring temperatures.

Brian works at Vin Sullivan Foods in Blaenavon - one of the most pleasant places to be in Gwent, thanks to their huge freezer and cold room. Temperatures in the 2,000 sq ft cold room, used to store fish and meat, are set at a cool 3 Celsius.

But in the freezer, also 2,000 sq ft, temperatures are dropped to an icy -24 Celsius.

Managing director Vin Sullivan said: "In this weather the offices are dreadfully hot, but on the factory floor it's quite cool.

"Because of health and safety regulations, people can't just walk in and out of the cold room without wearing overalls, but I bet they would like to in this heat!"

While the distribution warehouse is busy selling extra stocks of frozen food destined for barbecues across Gwent and beyond, a team of engineers is on standby in case the refrigeration equipment breaks down in the heat.

Mr Sullivan added: "In this sort of weather the work that the refrigeration unit has to do is enormous, so we have to look after it."

Meanwhile, in Newport, a supermarket has been dishing out free sunblock to its employees to cope with the blistering weather conditions.

Porters, specialist space hosts and warehouse staff at Asda in Newport are getting complimentary sun- block during working hours.

Dennis Hughes, the general store manager, said: "The great weather has started, and with at least 5 per cent of our colleagues working outside, we felt it was important for us to protect them from the sun and tropical temperatures.

"We decided to dish out free sunblock, and each colleague will also get tips on how best to protect themselves from the soaring heat." Asda stores across Gwent will also be introducing 'pooch patrols', with staff walking around the car park to ensure dogs haven't been left inside vehicles.

Pet stops, areas to tie up your dog while you shop, will be equipped with extra water.

All stores have ordered extra supplies of coleslaw, salads, juices, burgers and rolls to cope with the anticipated demand.

Train passengers endured more delays yesterday as mainline services were slashed in the afternoon as temperatures rose - amid safety fears that the rails will buckle in the searing heat.