Friday, February 21, 2014 - 16:00

They say that there is no such thing as a free lunch but for 100 delighted visitors to Plymouth city centre that very thing came true today (Friday, February 21).

Surprised shoppers and passers-by were invited into a huge marquee at Frankfort Gate where they found a big picnic table laden with goodies thanks to the Big Lunch, the UK’s annual get-together for neighbours.

The Big Lunch is all about community and friendship and the ‘pop-up-lunch’ in Plymouth was to mark 100 days to go to the big event on June 1 and to spread the word about just how much fun it can be to get together with neighbours.

In true Big Lunch fashion, everyone pulled together to make the event happen. The marquee was provided by Plymouth City Council, Big Lunch organisers from the Eden Project in Cornwall brought cakes and treats and singer Andy Quick supplied the music.

Sally Phipps, from St Laurence Road, Plymouth, said: "This pop-up Big Lunch is a lovely surprise and I think that The Big Lunch is a great idea.

"We've recently moved to the area and think that holding a Big Lunch would be a brilliant way to get to know people better."

Vera Dumbleton, a Big Lunch organiser from Ivybridge, Devon, who attended the Plymouth event today, said: “We have held three Big Lunches so far and they are a fantastic way to get the whole community together.

“We’ve already started planning this year’s event, where we will be commemorating WW11 and the RAF will be bringing along lots of memorabilia, including a replica fighter plane cockpit. There will be plenty of music and children’s games and we will also be recruiting volunteers to help plant a community orchard and wildflower meadow.”

The Big Lunch is funded by the Big Lottery Fund and partnered by Halifax, ASDA and StreetClub by B&Q. Now in its sixth year, the simple idea from the Eden Project aims to provide neighbours with an opportunity to get to know one another better. In 2013 more than 3.65 million people took part in Big Lunches across the UK, including thousands from the South West.

For residents interested in getting involved this June, free packs are now available from Packs include invitations and posters that can be adapted to suit each community’s needs, as well as seeds, bunting templates and an inspiration booklet with lots of ideas and info to help kick-start ideas.

Big Lunches can be big or small and they don’t need to cost much because everyone brings something to the table. 

Sir Tim Smit KBE, Founding Director, Eden Project and co-Founder The Big Lunch said: “We wanted to create the excuse for each of us to get over the shyness of knocking on a neighbour’s door for a street party and it seems The Big Lunch is exactly what millions of people in thousands of communities have been waiting for.

“The genius of The Big Lunch lies in all those wonderful people who go out and make it their event, each one is different but they share the same instinct to make our neighbourhoods friendlier to live in. Every time I hear about the clubs, activities and projects ‘Big Lunchers’ engage in after getting to know each other, I become ever more committed to making The Big Lunch bigger than ever.”