Big Lunch proves a big success in Chipping Sodbury

First published in News Gazette Series: Photograph of the Author by , reporter covering Yate, Chipping Sodbury, Winterbourne, Frampton Cotterell, Rangeworthy, Wickwar, Hawkesbury, Iron Acton, Coalpit Heath and Old Sodbury

A COMMUNITY came together on Sunday under sunny skies for the third annual Chipping Sodbury Big Lunch.

Families picnicked in Broad Street amid an afternoon of 1940s themed free entertainment including vocal harmony trio The Cat’s Pyjamas, who performed classic songs by Ella Fitzgerald and the Puppini Sisters.

Throughout the day, organised as part of the national Big Lunch initiative, organisers estimate more than 3,500 people shared lunch and drinks in the medieval High Street.

More than 300 people visited a one-off exhibition, staged by Jim Elsworth and Sodbury and District Historical Society of the American Signal company stationed in Chipping Sodbury during World War Two. Former history teacher Ann Murray, who runs her own cookery school in the town, served up recipes made from rationed food during the period.

Local groups Razzamataz, REDDs and Sodbury Players performed songs and dances whilst Alfredo the Clown entertained youngsters and pupils from Chipping Sodbury School retold residents’ wartime memories.

Sodbury mayor Cllr Wendy Whittle judged a children’s fancy dress competition and Thornbury and Yate MP Steve Webb chose the winners of a miniature garden competition.

Chipping Sodbury Big Lunch committee chairman Alexandra Womack said: “None of our committee could believe our luck with the fantastic weather on Sunday and we were thrilled with the number of people who came along and enjoyed this free, community event.

“We have been overwhelmed with positive feedback and everyone seemed to have a great time on the day.”

She added: “Our Big Lunch stemmed from the Diamond Jubilee and has become a popular addition to the Chipping Sodbury calendar.

“The 1940s theme this year seemed to go down well and attracted more elderly people, which we were really pleased about, and many said it reminded them of traditional street parties they used to hold themselves.”

A raffle to cover costs raised more than £500 and the event was also supported by Chipping Sodbury Town Lands’ Charity, Waitrose and Dodington Parish Council.

“We would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who helped with our Big Lunch whether it was giving up their time for free or donating a raffle prize,” said Alexandra.

“We couldn’t do it without the help of the community and thanks to their support, we look forward to our next Big Lunch in 2015.”

Pictures courtesy of Rich McD Photography - for the full gallery visit

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