*** The sun shone; Residents  came – what a relief! ***

With  21 days to go until  the 7th May Coronation Big Lunch, a group of residents  many of whom had never met before, collectively decided to use the opportunity to “do something” . We wanted to bring together Barbican residents and friends to celebrate the Coronation Big Lunch in line with the rest of the nation. 

We felt an organic event would work best, and floated the idea of a residents’ picnic in Thomas More gardens with the BEO and adjoining houses. The next step was to communicate what was planned. We got to work on designing a poster for lifts, Barbican Talk and the estate newsletter. 

Noticing that Coronation funding was available from the City of London , one of our volunteers  submitted a last minute  application.  A week later we received the good news that not only had our bid been successful but that Cromwell Tower House Group had also requested and been allocated funds too. Our super low-key event now stepped up a gear – with a fortnight until the lunch, flyers needed to be printed, circulated and distributed to 2074 flats, reusable bunting, tablecloths, coronation mementos, refreshments and treats bought. With days to go the weather forecast  predicted a downpour and the Palace mementos had not arrived, but we’d committed to residents – Rain or Shine! 

We met together as a group via Zoom and then in person for the first time on the Friday before Coronation Day. Our volunteer group had increased day by day to from 7 to 24. We realised that whilst some members of the group had been living in the Barbican for decades, over half of us were new to Barbican life. All were keen to get involved, connect and contribute to building our Barbican community. 

How did we do this? Volunteers distributed flyers within 48 hours , Helen in the BEO office helped with ordering, the Barbican Association lent us their gazebos. Cromwell Tower House Group provided complimentary refreshments and arranged entertainment – “Mrs H and the Singalong Band” agreed to come and perform a fun, family musical set – acoustic guitar and double bass.

10.30am  on the day saw Team Gazebo meet in the Defoe garage and Team Bunting in the gardens. A couple of hours later and we were set. A volunteer quiz master introduced himself , the Sharing Table started to fill , children and adults arrived wearing tiaras and crowns .We handed out seed pods to young residents and  all loved joining in with Mrs H ‘s music. Residents reconnected with old friends and made new connections with neighbours they had only passed in the lift before. 

Twenty Barbican Houses were represented. It was a great example of how volunteering and our community spirit is alive and well in the Barbican. 

“So nice to see community get together, is there more? We just moved here.”

“Many thanks to all friends and neighbours who made The Big Picnic so fine yesterday, Much appreciated by all my family from ten years through fifties to this ‘ancient’ resident!”

“I met old friends not seen in 25 years, we had lost touch.”

“We reminisced of friends we lost.”

“Mrs H was great, my kids loved the music.”

“I popped down didn’t know what to expect, thank you for organising this.”

Volunteers : thank you for making the Coronation Big Lunch actually happen! Angela Skinner, Bernie Burrows, Clare Wood, Edwina Cook, Helen Hudson, Iain Connor, Jenifer Rodrigues, John Tomlinson, Kathleen Bailey, Karen Lee, Karen Munroe, Lesley Connor, Mahendra Pabari, Miranda McArthur, Miranda Quinney, Mr & Mrs A Islam, Myra Stimson, Neil (roaming block name collector), Naresh Sonpar, Rishi Pabari, Ray Boey (quiz master), Shirley Islam, Yaj Sonpar

The Big Coronation Lunch – 146 individual households came to the party – across 20 blocks.  Ben Johnson wins the prize for highest attendance!  Roll on the next party, folks!