The Big Lunch in Southend-on-Sea 2009

The Big Lunch July 19th 2009

On Sunday July 19th at the top of our road about 100 friends and neighbours celebrated the BIG LUNCH. Ages ranged from baby Alice age 1 to age 96.

It was as part of the Big Lunch initiative which you may have seen advertised on TV and which has been sponsored by Mastercard, EDF, Royal Mail, Big lottery, V, and Communities. In our town the local council helped us by paying for the Public Liability insurance and the road closure.

This is how we started. The idea appealed to me when by chance, I met a friend who lives in the next road. When I told her about the idea she straight away said I’ll help and we were off.

We used the KISS principle and decided to make the time from 12.30 – 3.30 and to ask people to bring chairs and food to share.  Posters were available on the website and we found Alpha Print who did them half price. We asked the local Petite Patisserie for their leftovers and while we were there the man from Gainsborough Carpets came in and he gave us over 100 carpet samples. Inspired by our success we went to the balloon shop who gave us 50ft of bunting!

Westcliff Recall Society brought some of their collection which prompted others to fetch out pictures and souvenirs of WWII , including a model of Hitler in a car which had been bought at the Vatican!

The bungalow on the corner had a bubble machine and so there were bubbles blowing everywhere helped by the strong wind. Local musician Tony Compton started the proceedings by playing the piano and Elizabeth Upsher sang Blue Moon to everyone’s delight.  Assou played the African drum and everyone had a good time and looks forward to next year. A young man Paul (who is going to Australia soon) also came and played but it was a sign of the times that this skill is not common place. A pretty teenager helped some children to learn ‘chopsticks’.

We were, needless to say, amazed when the Piano Pavilion offered the loan of a piano! Unfortunately other musicians were caught up by the swine flu business and couldn’t come.


As we delivered the leaflets and warning about the road closure we discovered the home for people with learning difficulties. Two of them Les and Nigel came to help decorate the table tops which were covered with lining paper – another gift from the Dulux store. Our Volunteer Matthew who is on the Youth Council just happens to be studying art so we finished with some lovely art work. I put this up on the derelict corner shop but come this morning it was gone!

Mara and I also gathered help from our local councillor Tania, who lives on Mara’s road and from Brenda the Chair of the Residents’ Association. Together we made a good team and my only disappointment has been the lack of publicity locally.

Someone – I think it was Keith – remarked that it was like the feeding of the 5,000 when we saw all the delicious food that had been produced! Kamil from Transition Westcliff brought in a vegan, organic, fairtrade, local blackcurrants cake:)

At the end there were races for over ten and under tens. The under tens, 3 pre-school little boys, just loved running down the middle of the road and did it again and again!


Most of the time there was just a lot of chat and laughter as people got to know each other. Old and young ate together, some danced together and even joined in the races.

Other streets in the area were also taken over by locals. Satanita Road residents had the whole stretch to themselves


and Pembury Road Street Party organized by South Westcliff Community Group and Milton Community Group invited a DJ and Roman dancers by a douzen.

Everyone was welcome… kind off.

They had a very interesting way to raise funds?!

The Big Lunch was backed by the local council who closed the road and also paid the public Liability Insurance. See www.biglunch.com

Thinks about doing one in your road next year- it is good fun .

Christine Robinson 85 Westbourne grove 01702 346291

Did you have a party at your street? How was it?

One Response

  1. […] The Big Lunch in Southend-on-Sea 2009 […]

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