Housing 21 sheltered housing scheme receives Big Lunch Community Award at Clarence House

A prestigious awards ceremony took place at Clarence House for staff from a Housing 21 Northamptonshire-based sheltered housing scheme, who were presented with an award recognising their contribution to their local area. The Awards were presented by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, Patron of The Big Lunch, which is funded by the Big Lottery Fund.

The Big Lunch Community Awards were launched to acknowledge the positive and lasting impact that has been made to communities during the first five years of The Big Lunch, an annual get-together for neighbours, initiated by The Eden Project in 2009, taking place this year on Sunday 2 June.

At the ceremony HRH The Duchess of Cornwall met two members of Housing 21 staff from Attley Court in Northamptonshire, Big Lunch Ambassador, Barbara Windsor MBE, and representatives from The Big Lunch including co-founder Sir Tim Smit, who introduced the awards.

Long-standing Big Lunch Ambassador, Barbara Windsor MBE, said: “It’s been a pleasure to be part of The Big Lunch Community Awards and it's a great honour to be invited to Clarence House to meet this incredibly deserving, community.

“We’ve heard some truly inspirational stories, proving the amazing impact that holding a Big Lunch can have on communities and streets alike. It’s a marvellous idea and so simple too, you wouldn’t believe how easy it is to organise your own Big Lunch. I really hope the Awards and the positive legacy that having a Big Lunch leaves will encourage others from all corners of the UK to take part in this year’s event on 2 June.”

Attley Court, Northamptonshire

Organisers Martin Sawers and Silvio Solorzano held a Big Lunch in Attley Court in Northamptonshire last year which was praised by judges for the way it used The Big Lunch to build links within the local community and for taking measures to help keep elderly residents active and engaged.

Martin Sawers, joint organiser of the Attley Court Diamond Jubilee Big Lunch commented: “We’re absolutely thrilled to win a Big Lunch Community Award. When we started planning our first Big Lunch event last year, I think we underestimated the lasting effect it would have on our community, not to mention the fun that we’d have on the day! We’ve had a great time organising our Big Lunch event and it’s wonderful that all our hard work has been recognised in this way.

“As a result of our Big Lunch Diamond Jubilee celebrations, we won The Spirit of Housing 21 Live Active Award for our work with both residents and members of the local community. This year we have held a community Burns Supper and we’re entering a float into the Wellingborough Carnival. We have managed to enlist the help of the whole community including the elderly residents, staff from the local Co-op, youngsters from the Queensway Estate, local police and groundwork staff and students from the Olympic Primary School who will be designing the banners to display on board.”

Five finalists, two from England and one each from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, were selected out of 35 shortlisted communities from hundreds of applicants across the UK. In addition to the Award, each will also receive a commemorative bench to be placed in the heart of their community.

Sir Tim Smit, co-founder of The Big Lunch, added: “It’s been such a wonderful day and a great celebration of streets and communities that have been transformed as a result of holding a Big Lunch over the past five years.

“It just shows that a simple knock on a neighbour’s door can lead to much, much more – not only a day of food and fun but lasting friendships, stronger, more sustainable communities and, for many including the elderly residents of Attley Court, an irreplaceable sense of security. Don’t be shy, download our free organiser pack from thebiglunch.com and rally your neighbours together to take part in this year’s Big Lunch on 2 June.”

The Lottery-funded Big Lunch, supported by MasterCard, Kingsmill and Asda, is an annual event led by the Eden Project which encourages neighbours to get together on one day a year for a few hours of community, friendship and fun, with 8.5 million people taking part last year. This year’s Big Lunch takes place on 2 June and packs including posters, invitations, a planner and other materials to help organise your Big Lunch, are available fromwww.thebiglunch.com.