Cloughmills enjoys a Big Lunch Teddy Bears Picnic

Enjoying The Big Lunch at the Mill Cloughmills were L-R Evonne Boyle, Helen and Caleb McCann, Siobhan & Isla Birhett & Molly McCann. INBM25-16S
Enjoying The Big Lunch at the Mill Cloughmills were L-R Evonne Boyle, Helen and Caleb McCann, Siobhan & Isla Birhett & Molly McCann. INBM25-16S

Locals in Cloughmills enjoyed a Teddy Bear’s Picnic on Sunday – with dozens of people also joining in with food initiatives, all as part of this year’s Big Lunch.

The Cloughmills Community Action Team hosted the event at the Old Mill in a bid to build community links and also tackle social isolation, as part of a series of events which is making the mill an ever-stronger local hub.

L-R Organisers of The Big Lunch at the Mill Cloughmills Barbara Donnelly, Patrick Frew, Declan Donnelly and Catherine Simpson. INBM25-16S

L-R Organisers of The Big Lunch at the Mill Cloughmills Barbara Donnelly, Patrick Frew, Declan Donnelly and Catherine Simpson. INBM25-16S

Now in its eighth year, The Big Lunch is an idea from the Eden Project, made possible by the Big Lottery Fund, that aims to get as many people as possible to have lunch with their neighbours in a simple act of community, friendship and fun.

At Cloughmills they asked people to bring a sharing plate, and also ran three initiatives to start conversations and bring attendees closer together. The Cloughmills Food Share encouraged people to share food that is no longer wanted or needed; the group’s Food Hub built on work with local producers to look at ways maximise access to food in the local area; and their new bread club looked at how important bread is in different cultures.

Patrick Frew, Chair of Cloughmills Community Action Team, said: “The idea behind The Big Lunch is to bring the community together, and perhaps have people meet for the first time, and we thought these initiatives would be a great way to do that – building on the idea that food brings people together.”

Big Lunches can be in your back garden, your street, or in a large public space. Some are barbecues, some picnics, they can involve a handful of people right up to huge gatherings.

L-R Brothers Donal and Brendan Martin enjoy The Big Lunch at the Mill Cloughmills with Brendans sons Conall and Ronan Martin. INBM25-16S

L-R Brothers Donal and Brendan Martin enjoy The Big Lunch at the Mill Cloughmills with Brendans sons Conall and Ronan Martin. INBM25-16S

“There is still time to sign up for The Big Lunch this year, just visit www.thebiglunch.com and register for a free pack - while it is also possible to access a £50 voucher via The Big Lunch Northern Ireland on Facebook to help get your party started.

Grainne McCloskey, Partnership Manager for The Big Lunch Northern Ireland, said: “Food bringing people together was the theme of this year’s Big Lunch and Cloughmills is a brilliant example of just that. Clearly everyone had a great time and I am delighted to see they had such a big success.”

Joanne McDowell, Northern Ireland Director of The Big Lottery Fund, said: “We are delighted to continue our support of The Big Lunch. It has had a really positive impact on communities across Northern Ireland and we are looking forward to seeing the difference it will make to people once again.”

Full story online!

Sarah Owens, Alex Mc Burney and Alan Murphy at The Big Lunch at the Mill Cloughmills. INBM24-16S

Sarah Owens, Alex Mc Burney and Alan Murphy at The Big Lunch at the Mill Cloughmills. INBM24-16S

The participation figures are remarkable - last year there were hundreds of Big Lunches across NI with tens of thousands of people taking part. Across the whole of the UK more than 7.3 million people were involved.

The important thing is gathering together to enjoy some food and getting to know your neighbours and community better.

Matthew McCarthy works off his Big Lunch at the Mill Cloughmills. INBM25-16S

Matthew McCarthy works off his Big Lunch at the Mill Cloughmills. INBM25-16S