Why a Big Jubilee Lunch is right up Christine’s alley
When Christine Sherburne walked away from her job as a teacher 5 years ago, she knew she wasn’t ready to put her feet up. The 66-year-old from Salford said, “I’m lucky. I retired early and I have a lot of energy and a lot of skills. I wasn’t ready to put those skills away and start knitting. I knew I wanted to make a difference.”
And what a difference she’s made. From transforming the grimy alleyway behind her house into a bright, welcoming place where neighbours congregate, to driving the transformation of a run-down youth club into a community hub, Christine is a force to be reckoned with.
She has always been a ‘can-do’ person. But the spark that ignited her activism was the inspirational Eden Project Community Camp she attended in 2019. Run by Eden Project Communities – the organiser of the National Lottery supported Big Lunch – the camps are designed to give people the tools to build more resilient and better connected communities.
The Big Lunch, an annual event bringing people together to share food, have fun and get to know each other, is just one of the amazing projects made possible by National Lottery players, who raise over £30Million each week for good causes. This year, to celebrate the Queen’s 70 years of service, the event has been renamed The Big Jubilee Lunch.
Christine said, “The Eden Project Communities Camp just blew me away. There were so many positive role models, so much encouragement and so much practical advice. I came away inspired.”
Looking for an opportunity to make a difference, Christine lighted on the litter-strewn alleyway behind her house. Feeling sorry for the children who played in the lane, she began to decorate it with shrubs in discarded paint pots.
She said, “When lockdown started they closed the local park and the kids had nowhere else to play. I wanted to make the alley as nice as possible for them.”
Christine and her neighbours removed the litter and installed benches and a donated playhouse. Strings of bunting added a cheerful touch. Soon, it wasn’t just the children who were flocking to the rejuvenated alley – their parents began to join them for chats, tea parties and ‘Pimms by the bins’.
In 2020, when Christine helped organise a street party to commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE Day, the alley was used to learn the steps to The Lindy Hop, a popular American dance. The following year, it was the location for a joyous Big Lunch.
Christine is organising a Big Jubilee Lunch this year – a street party in a rather special location. After persuading her council to allow her and a team of locals to turn a run-down youth club into a community hub with a cafe serving healthy, inexpensive food, she decided to host the 2022 Big Jubilee Lunch in the street outside.
She said, “The Big Jubilee Lunch will kick off the rejuvenation of the building. We’ve asked people to wear their best red, white and blue outfits and there will be music and a jubilee hat competition.”
One thing is clear: Christine has plenty more projects up her sleeve. She said, “Going to the Eden Project Community Camp gave me the confidence to have a go. Now I want to inspire other people to have a go too. Don’t focus on what you can't do, focus on what you can do and crack on with that.”
11th May 2022
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