Walkers on an epic trek across the UK got their chance to put their feet up today (Sunday, June 18) . . . and have a cuppa with locals in Edinburgh.
The Great Big Walk – which has seen teams of walkers fan across the country – ended its Scottish leg with a “Big Lunch” event in Pilrig St. Paul’s Church in the capital.
Comedienne Jo Brand set off five walks across the country from Batley in Yorkshire on May 29.
The initiative aimed to drum up interest in the annual Big Lunch project; shine a light on community projects visited by the walkers and also support the Great Get Together. The latter has been encouraging people to attend community events in celebration of the murdered Yorkshire MP Jo Cox, who died a year ago this week.
One of the walkers, Josh Quigley (24), from Edinburgh, said the trek back home from Yorkshire was “absolutely incredible and life-changing”.
He said he was moved to tears after meeting war veterans at The Living Memory Association’s base in Edinburgh’s Ocean Terminal. Another highlight was visiting The Lawnmowers, a theatre group in Gateshead, helping people with learning difficulties.
The Scotland-bound walkers also went to the moon and back – touching bits of lunar rock at Kielder Observatory near the Scottish border. They also had a singing lesson at one of England’s most rural choirs in Northumberland and went on a prayer walk with the Bishop of Durham as they headed north. Bizarrely, someone dressed as Darth Vader turned up the same day . . . .
In Scotland, the walkers visited the award-winning Stove arts project in Dumfries, toured Dumfries House and searched for “dinosaurs” – toy ones – in Cambuslang. They also visited the National Lottery-funded Kelpies and Helix Park in Falkirk.
(Video of interviews with Josh and fellow walkers – plus interviews from different community groups visited – are at http://www.twitter.com/edencommsscot )
Today, the adventure was over and it was time to join representatives from the local community in Leith at Pilrig St. Paul’s Church to reflect on the three-week trek. There were presentations on the Leith Community Cinema – based within the church – and Leith Community Knitting Bee. Knitted bunting dressed the Big Lunch event room.
The Great Big Walk was organised by the Eden Project, with funding from the National Lottery and other partners.
Emily Watts, Eden Communities’ Scotland country manager, said: “We’ve had tremendous support and fun along our way. We’ve stopped at around 30 community projects along our route from Yorkshire to Scotland, some funded by the National Lottery. We’ve met, talked to, eaten with and laughed with, the communities that make our nation what it is.”
She added: “The whole aim of the Great Big Walk has been to shine a light on connected communities while ‘walking an appetite’ for our Big Lunch, which this year is the highlight of the Great Get Together celebrations. Across the UK this weekend, Big Lunches and Get Togethers are taking place in what will be the biggest community celebration the UK has ever seen.
“Just getting people together for a walk, or a lunch, can do wonders for communities and reminds us all there’s more than unites us than divides – a sentiment promoted by Jo Cox.
“If you haven’t organised your own Big Lunch event, don’t worry you can still organise one. Visit http://www.thebiglunch.com for support and information.
“A big thank you to our walkers, our funders and all our partners for making the walk such an adventure.”
About The Great Big Walk
The Great Big Walk (thegreatbigwalk.com) is an idea from the Eden Project, funded by the National Lottery and supporters including Pears Foundation and Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation. The Great Big Walk has received in kind support from YHA for accommodation, and Renault with a fleet of electric support vehicles. The Great Big Walk connects people and communities, inviting them to take part in the UK’s annual get-together for neighbours by hosting their own Big Lunch events: the highlight of The Great Get Together on Sunday 18 June 2017.
About The Big Lunch
The Big Lunch (thebiglunch.com) is the UK’s annual get together for neighbours, an idea from the Eden Project made possible by the National Lottery. This year, The Big Lunch will be held on Sunday 18 June as the highlight of The Great Get Together weekend. The Big Lunch started in 2009. Last year over 7.3 million people took part in over 90,0000 events across the UK. Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall is Patron of The Big Lunch. Bringing communities together, reducing loneliness and isolation. and helping to make a difference locally is at the heart of the National Lottery’s mission.
About The Great Get Together
The Great Get Together event marks the first anniversary of the murder of Jo Cox MP, and is inspired by her maiden speech to Parliament when she said “We have more in common and are far more united than that which divides us”. It will be the biggest community event across the UK since the Diamond Jubilee. Up and down the country, get-togethers are being planned – big and small – from Big Lunch street parties to BBQs and games of football to bake-offs. The initiative was started by the friends and family of Jo Cox. They have teamed up with The Big Lunch, which has organised annual neighbourhood celebrations since 2009, and has moved its annual event to coincide with the anniversary. More than one hundred organisations are supporting The Great Get Together, from The Big Lunch, Help for Heroes to Amnesty International; the RNLI to the RSPB; the Scouts, the Guides, The Women’s Institute and The Premier League. The aim of The Great Get Together is to connect people and build stronger communities.
About the Big Lottery Fund
The Big Lottery Fund is the largest funder of community activity in the UK. It puts people in the lead to improve their lives and communities, often through small, local projects. It is responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised by National Lottery players for good causes. Last year it awarded £583 million and supported around 12,000 projects across the UK for health, education, environment and charitable purposes. Since June 2004 it has awarded over £8 billion to projects that change the lives of millions of people.
For more information visit http://www.biglotteryfund.org.uk
Anyone interested in following The Great Big Walk can find out more at http://www.thegreatbigwalk.com
More background information at http://theprstore.co.uk/news
Adrian Mahoney, PR for Scotland en route, tel. 07967 150560 –
Laura Sutherland, Aura PR, Glasgow, tel. 0141 337 6712 or 07764 936 840
Sarah Boniface, PR Manager, Eden Project Communities, tel. 020 058
2427 or 07976 633674 – firstname.lastname@example.org