Charlie Whewell, 44, has been holding a Big Lunch every year since 2009, when he first moved into his home on a newly-built cul-de-sac in Northamptonshire. As the last family to move into the development of 47 houses, Charlie said he “quickly realised that there was a great chance to grow a real community in this new development.”
After connecting with his next-door neighbour Jayson to set up a Neighbourhood Watch, they looked for an event to bring people together, so when they first heard about The Big Lunch, they decided to give it a go.
Charlie said, “The Big Lunch has been a staple for our cul de sac. We do it every year and it’s helped us to develop a great community. We lend each other things, the kids play football on the green and people’s pets roam around!”
For Charlie, The Big Lunch is usually a relaxed affair, with about 40 to 50 attendees who each bring along enough food for themselves and something to share if they like. Held on the green with gazebos up and plenty of bunting on display, the community’s Big Lunch often features a bouncy castle or a theme, such as The Big Jubilee Lunch in 2012 when the bunting was out in full force!
With a background in environmental science, dad of two Charlie has also been keen to encourage his close-knit community to do what they can to help the planet. As well as ensuring that each Big Lunch produces as little waste as possible and encouraging people to bring along their own crockery, the community also has a Facebook group where people can pass on things they no longer need and support one another to re-use and recycle as much as possible.
Charlie said, “I teach outdoor adventure and teambuilding so I’m passionate about getting people outside and developing community spirit. We love upcycling and handing stuff on to others – just last week I put some books on our Facebook group and now my neighbour is using them with her class at school. We’re nothing special but we’re quite proud of our little community. A lot of what I do is to try and show my kids that if you look out for people, it can really make a difference, and they’ll look out for you.”
Ten years on from his first Big Jubilee Lunch and with millions of people set to join in, Charlie’s Platinum Jubilee celebration is already in the diary!