Big Lunch Extras

The main thrust of our mainland trip last week was Ady and I attending a Big Lunch Extras Camp at the Eden Project.

Big Lunch Extras is a three year programme funded by the Lottery, sponsored by Halifax and delivered by the Eden Project to help individuals across the UK create positive change in their communities. We got involved with the project last year when we held the first Big Lunch here on Rum and have stayed in touch with the Eden Project since. When the opportunity to attend one of the weekend camps came up we were really keen to go along despite it being a rather epic journey and we are very glad we did.

There were a selection of workshops, talk and activities over the course of the weekend. Some were delivered by Eden staff – and I have never met a bunch of more enthusiastic, energetic and happy staff in my life! Every one of them truly loved their job, believed wholeheartedly in the aims of their employer and were positively evangelical in everything Eden stands for. A very refreshing and inspirational group of people to spend time with. Also appearing were some key speakers from various places – we heard from Matt Hastings community energy guru, Matthew Thomson from the Cornwall Fifteen restaurant. We participated in some workshops hosted by the fabulous Sue Hill of Wildworks and some of the volunteers from Barefoot taught us some great new arts, crafts and hands on skills. A highlight for everyone was a talk from Sir Tim Smit (I was going to tag him as ‘Mr Eden Project’ but of course he is so, so much more!). I had an unexpected chat with Tim afterwards just as he was leaving when he told me he had spent 3 months here on Rum back in 1976 studying the ticks here. He asked what had made us come to Rum so I gave him a very brief answer – brevity never being my strong point! It was lovely to shake his hand and exchange a bit of mutual ‘yay you’ ‘no, yay you’ with such an inspiring man. I do love meeting a hero, particularly when they prove to be so wonderfully ordinary.

The Eden Project has a fantastic back story, continues to evolve and grow and this was our third visit there. It was great to see such changes and moves forward and to hear of the exciting plans for the future. I think what I love most about it is that it will never be done, it will always be a work in progress, what a great ethos. So, a wonderful location was provided, the hospitality by way of excellent hosting staff, fantastic food and drink and every logistical need more than met was faultless. The timetable of information, thought provoking speakers and workshops was really good but what really, really made the weekend such a memorable one was the other attendees. We were among forty odd other people from all over the UK. Activists, local heroes, fundraisers, community members, parents, teachers, coaches, young people, mature people. It was sharing stories and getting to know these people that made for such a magical weekend for us. We laughed, we cried, we learnt. We were inspired and re-energised. Ady and I told our story countless times, pointed out Rum on the map, explained how many of us there are here, why we came, why we stay, what we want to achieve. In telling our tale we were once again reminded of how passionately we believe in our island, our croft, our community and what we can make happen here.

I have come home filled with new ideas, a new resolve to do things just a little differently, validated in some of the choices we’ve made and decisions we have taken. We are part of many communities – our own little family, our island, our corner of the UK, our online Home Education friends and now another, equally scattered about the country but joined in spirit, in ideas and in a passion for making a difference community. Massive thanks to all at Big Lunch Extras for everything that went into making last weekend happen and to all of the other attendees for making it all it was.

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