Volunteer Now - News

Skip Navigation

Local Volunteer Recognised at Royal Event

13 March 2015

HRH The Duchess of Cornwall praises NI woman at Clarence House meeting.

Jo Scott from Millisle has been recognised for using The Big Lunch to make great improvements to her local community.

Jo was yesterday praised by the Duchess of Cornwall for her great work in her local community, in conjunction with The Big Lunch. Jo travelled to Clarence House for the UK launch of The Big Lunch 2015 in celebration of her fantastic work which has left a lasting legacy in her Co Down community.

She has been organising The Big Lunch alongside the young people of Millisle each year since 2010, after coming across The Big Lunch through Volunteer Now. She started small before getting involved in the Big Jubilee Lunch in 2012 when groups from across the village came together.

The big Lunch

Along with the Millisle Youth Forum she converted a disused garage into a drop-in centre for young people which has helped create stronger social bonds and bring the community together.

In 2013, an older people’s home near the drop-in centre approached the young people and asked if they would be able to serve their Christmas dinner – so alongside Jo and other volunteers, the young people planned the whole event and served a beautiful Christmas dinner in the style of Big Lunch.

Last year Jo and the Youth Forum worked with their local Asda to make their Big Lunch over several days in a “big pink weekend”, raising money for breast cancer and involving around 20% of people in the village – and she is already planning another weekend of activities for her Big Lunch this year on Sunday 7th June.

It was in recognition of all this superb work that she was invited to Clarence House to meet HRH The Duchess of Cornwall alongside a handful of other Big Lunchers from across the UK.

Jo said: “I had a fabulous day from start to finish, it was great to meet Her Royal Highness and it was also fantastic to meet other people from the Big Lunch across the UK.

“It’s a big honour to get this sort of recognition. The Big Lunch has proved itself a brilliant way to improve a local community and also have a great time doing it.”

HRH The Duchess of Cornwall was hosting the event at Clarence House to launch The Big Lunch 2015 - the UK’s annual get together for neighbours to help build stronger communities.

As Patron of The Big Lunch, Her Royal Highness is lending her support to this year's campaign, which hopes to inspire 6.4 million people in the UK (one in ten of the population) to attend a Big Lunch on Sunday 7th June to help improve community spirit across the UK.

HRH The Duchess of Cornwall commenting on The Big Lunch said: “It seems to have gone from big to enormous. We couldn't have thought in 2009 when it started it was ever going to take off like this. And obviously talking to everybody here today it's making a huge difference to people’s lives and getting people talking. And that's what community is all about so please keep on with the good work and thank you very much for all that you do.”

Grainne McCloskey, NI Manager of The Big Lunch, said: “From the beginning, The Big Lunch was given as a gift of an idea to help improve community spirit and reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness found in every community.

“The annual event gives people a reason to make contact with their neighbours – perhaps for the first time. In the last six years we have seen that The Big Lunch is about much more than just the one day – it helps build relationships and friendships both before and after the event itself, which are the foundations for building stronger communities across Northern Ireland.”

The Big Lunch is the UK’s annual get-together for neighbours, an idea from the Eden Project made possible by The Big Lottery Fund. It’s the perfect recipe for having fun with your neighbours, feeding community spirit and helping to build stronger neighbourhoods.

The Big Lunch is calling on communities to take part this year and host their own Big Lunch events on Sunday June 7th 2015. Get started by visiting www.thebiglunch.com to request a FREE pack or call 0845 850 8181 to speak to one of the team.

The Big Lunch