A LOCAL environmental group gathered in Antrim last week to share a Big Lunch together at the Castle Gardens on a beautiful sunny day.
The Countryside Custodians aim to raise environmental awareness, bringing together like-minded people to create positive change - and to show how easy it is for anyone to make small changes in an affordable manner.
By organising local litter picks with support from Live Here Love Here, they encourage both good physical and mental health and the opportunity to forge new and lasting friendships.
Many of the participants had joined the group during lockdown when Countryside Custodians saw a surge of members grow from 500 to a staggering 1,200. And since January this year, the inspirational group have gathered an amazing 2,300 bags of rubbish.
“During the early days of lockdown people took the opportunity to walk around their local area, where before they would have only driven through,” said founder member Katherine McAdam.
“This gave them the opportunity to slow down, take notice, appreciate their surroundings and really pay attention to how their own locations could be improved and I believe this inspired more people to join us.
“Our Big Lunch was the first time since lockdown that our members, who come from right across the County, were able to socialise and sit down for a picnic together. Sharing food at the end of each activity and building relationships is such an important part of our regular routine as it’s a great way to welcome new members and to get to know each other.
“Many in the group have really been missing this particular aspect so today has been very special. Not only did we enjoy some wonderful food, we had the opportunity to chat about a lovely letter which had been sent to the group from our hero, Sir David Attenborough.
“We were so lucky to get his letter last month, just before Earth Day and it has been extremely motivational and inspirational for us.”
‘The Big Lunch’ is an idea from the Eden project, made possible by the National Lottery, supported by Iceland and Food Warehouse.