Sunday, June 7, 2015 - 16:45

People in the South West have today (Sunday June 7) joined millions all over the UK in getting to know their local communities better as part of The Big Lunch, the UK’s annual one-day get-together for neighbours.

The Big Lunch, an initiative led by the Eden Project and made possible by the Big Lottery Fund, has taken place in villages, towns and cities across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

One of the South West Big Lunches was an attempt in Par, Cornwall to break the world record for the biggest ever cream tea gathering. To break the record, more than 600 people needed to sit down and eat a cream tea together. Organiser Gill Butler predicts that at least 700 people have turned up.
Other lunches included an international-themed event in the village of Kenn, Somerset and a Big Lunch in in Gloucester that included a street clean before everyone sat down to eat. Terry Thorpe, who recently met The Big Lunch Patron HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, and her friend Ginette Berry organised a lunch in Westward Ho!, Devon.

Gill Butler of the Par Community Association, who organised the Big Lunch in Par, said: “It's absolutely scorching hot and everyone's sharing cream, jam and conversation. Everyone's rabbiting to each other, it's lovely. It's a real get-together, a real Big Lunch, only it's a big cream tea!

“The number of people who have donated things for the lunch and turned out to help today has been incredible. I've been completely and utterly overwhelmed by the response of the local community. I'm absolutely ecstatic with the way things have gone today!”

With more than two thirds (68%) of adults in the UK saying they feel lonely either often, always or sometimes and one in 10 people (13%) saying they do not know their neighbours at all*, initiatives like The Big Lunch are increasingly important.

The Big Lunch, which is supported by Halifax and Asda, is the perfect recipe for having fun with neighbours, feeding community spirit and helping to build stronger neighbourhoods. People are the key ingredient, with those taking part creating friendlier communities in which they start to share more, from conversation and ideas to skills and resources.

Sir Tim Smit KBE, Co-Founder of the Eden Project and The Big Lunch, says: “The Big Lunch is always special as millions of people all over the UK take time out of their busy lives to talk, laugh and eat with their neighbours. It is based on a simple concept: if we spend a Sunday afternoon with our neighbours in June, we’ll build friendships and stronger communities that will last for years. It’s about making our streets happier, safer and less lonely places and it’s fantastic to see so many people taking part this year.”

Actress Barbara Windsor, who supports The Big Lunch, comments: “The Big Lunch is close to my heart and I’m delighted to support it again. Who doesn’t love a good knees-up? It’s great to see what a few hours with your neighbours can lead to – both in terms of friendships and community spirit. I’m sure all the Big Lunchers across the UK have had a fantastic day.”

Peter Ainsworth, Chair of the Big Lottery Fund, adds: “The Big Lunch is becoming a regular feature in our summer calendar and is helping keep communities together throughout the year. We’re proud to be supporting it again in 2015.”

*Opinium Research carried out the online survey of 2,437 UK adults aged 18+ in April 2015. Results were weighted to nationally representative criteria.