Letter to Wansteadium: The Big Lunch

Lisa Scott, organiser of last week’s Big Lunch picnic writes:

The Big Lunch Wanstead was held on Sunday 5th June on Christchurch Green. Possibly the first Big Lunch in Wanstead, certainly the only one in Wanstead this year. And what an afternoon.

Myself and 5 volunteers began to set up from 10am, hanging bunting, blowing up balloons, laying out tables and crossing our fingers that people would arrive but that the rain didn’t. By 1pm the clouds would hold out no longer and a gentle rain fell. Those dedicated to the idea of meeting new people and being part of a community event arrived, regardless of the weather and the limited notice. We even had a surprise visit from Redbridge Mayor, Mr Chris Cummins. He was visiting several Big Lunch’s in Redbridge and even though we saw the car and the crest, it was only when he was a couple of metres away that we actually believed that he might be there to visit us, say hello and congratulate us for the hard work we had put in setting up the event. Unfortunately it was fairly early and numbers were low. Thankfully Mike from Wanstead Transition Initiative had arrived early (with his Chapeldown ‘champagne’, made in Kent in – yum) and was able to enjoy the moment (alongside letting everyone know what WTI do – thanks Mike). Had the Mayor arrived nearer to 3pm he would have seen all 30 of us, chatting away, sharing food and getting to know each other. But it was fantastic to have him visit and show his support regardless.

Following the picnic (which saw us huddled under the big oak tree to shelter from the rain) I had some games planned. Now, just motivating the troops. Thankfully several high street retailers had generously donated prizes, so a huge thank you to The Queens British Steakhouse, The Larder, Wanstead Beauty Clinic, The Cuckfield, the Co-op, Bike Trax, Zoology for Men and the Olive Branch. They really proved that serving the community is at the heart of what they do. Games included the classics ‘egg and spoon’ and ‘three legged’ races, alongside a mini petonque competition and a best dish award. I think that everyine enjoyed taking part despite their initial reservations. Eventually both the weather and time got the better of us all, our new friends wandered home and we packed away as quickly as we could in the now heavy rain!

So was it worth it – yes, it was great to meet new people. Might it have been more successful – yes, with more time to organise it and better weather. Would we do it again – lets see…..

I only hope that it was the rain that put people off and not the lack of sense of community which is what this event is all about. Next year the Big Lunch is partnering with the Diamond Jubilee so lets hope that we see more people attend next year – regardless of the weather!