Sunday, June 1, 2014 - 17:18

Today, Sunday 1 June, thousands of people across the South West have been sitting down with their neighbours for the sixth annual Big Lunch. They joined an estimated four million people across the UK.

The Big Lunch, which is funded by the Big Lottery Fund and led by the Eden Project, encourages people across the UK to have lunch with their neighbours once a year, for a few hours of community, friendship and fun. Organisers behind the initiative say that the simple act of chatting to neighbours can make a real difference in communities and can help tackle isolation.

One of the biggest Big Lunches taking place was the event in Wadebridge, where the main street was lined with tables and chairs and several thousand people, including Sir Tim Smit, Co-founder of The Big Lunch, came together for fun, food and entertainment.

Adrian Jones, the Wadebridge Big Lunch organiser, said: “It's quite a moving thing to go from planning something like this to seeing people on the street and everyone getting together and enjoying themselves! And we've got sun, perfect!”

Other Big Lunches that took place across the South West included a giant event in the main street of Chipping Sodbury which attracted several thousand people and commemorated the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings with a 1940s theme, as well as a picnic on Plymouth Hoe for four of city’s LGBT groups and a traditional street party in Bath.

There was also a massive party for the residents of Kingsway, Gloucester, a Big Lunch full of music, games and magic in Swindon and a colourful gathering for neighbours in Bournemouth.

Dave Talbot, one of the organisers of The Big Lunch in Kingsway, said: “It’s gone fantastically well and everyone has had a cracking time. Hundreds of people came along and everyone’s enjoyed their lunch. We’ve had a DJ and a live band, fairground rides and local business stands. The weather is gorgeous, we couldn’t have asked for it to be any better than it is.”

Sir Tim Smit, Co-Founder of The Big Lunch, said: “Year after year, I never fail to be impressed by the sheer number of people who get involved and take the time to hold a Big Lunch in their community.  The Big Lunch is always a great success and the perfect excuse for people to get together. While on the surface, it’s a day of laughter, friendship and fun, if you look deeper than that, these get-togethers are having an enormously positive impact on communities. Big things come from Big Lunches and what they each have in common is they all start in the same way – with small talk.

“After six years, it’s amazing to see so many people taking our simple idea and really making it work wonders for their communities. We’ve heard so many inspiring stories already and know they’ll be plenty more to come.  Roll on The Big Lunch 2015…”

Inspired by this Sunday’s Big Lunch celebrations? There’s still chance to take part as you can organise a Big Lunch on a date to suit your community.  Free packs including  posters, invitations, an inspiration booklet and other resources to help organise your Big Lunch are available from until the end of June 2014.