Lunch brings communities together

FOOD might be the key to a man's heart but Suffolk residents have shown it also unlocks the heart of the community.

FOOD might be the key to a man's heart but Suffolk residents have shown it also unlocks the heart of the community.

Frances Waite was one of many who took part in “The Big Lunch” at the weekend, an initiative launched by the Eden Project to rejuvenate community spirit nationwide.

Along with 19 others the 82-year-old got to know neighbours over a lunch organised by Michael and Irene Martin, whom, both in their sixties, are the youngest residents at Kiln Cottages, sheltered accommodation on The Brickfields, Stowmarket.

“There was more food than we wanted,” Frances said. “More booze, too!” And thanks to what she affectionately refers to as “drinky-poos”, the ex-servicewoman claims nobody noticed the bad weather.

On a more serious note, she added: “Most of us are widows, and our husbands wouldn't want us to sit and twiddle our thumbs, staring at four walls. This proves us golden oldies are still capable of a thing or two.”

With more lunches in the pipeline, Frances said the event “seems to have worked its magic.”

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Another “Big Lunch” happened across the county in Oak Meadow Park in Kesgrave.

Soggy sandwiches were a distinct risk, but 45 hungry neighbours braved the showers, coming together to eat, drink, and be merry.

Despite having lived in the area for two years, organiser Lyndsey Hessey, a 31-year-old Community Learning and Skills Developer at Suffolk County Council, says she knew very few of her neighbours.

After seeing the Eden Project's television advert she decided to participate, distributing posters to children at Cedarwood Primary School and using word-of-mouth to promote the day.

“The lunch was really good,” she told the Evening Star. “Nearly everybody wants to do it again next year and asked me to let them know when it would happen, so it looks as though I've signed up for another year!”

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