The Hazelbank community came together this week to enjoy a colourful Mad Hatter’s Big Lunch party within the estate.
People of all ages, from babies to senior citizens got in the spirit and dressed up for the event, which was staged at Farland Way.
Many participants designed and made their own colourful hats for a competition parade, with local priest Fr Paddy O’Kane having the honour of judging the best in show.
As well as tea, soft drinks and party food there was also an outdoor disco, games and prizes to be won throughout the afternoon.
The event was organised by Margaret Cunningham. Community Assistant with Habinteg Housing, and the Cosy (Citizens of Senior Years) Club.
Ms Cunningham, who also ran a Big Lunch in the estate last year, said: “It’s a great way of bringing all ages together over a wee cup of tea and a sandwich, and everybody comes along.
“We have had hat making prior to this event. Personally I love themed events, it’s a great way of breaking down barriers for people who don’t know one another. And the weather held out as well.”
She adde: “It really, really heights community spirit. Sometimes people living on their own maybe don’t always see people from one end of the week to the next, so I think events like this are a great way of actually coming along and just meeting new people and new friends and small talk becomes big talk.”
Age Concern’s Pensioner of the Year and local resident James Nash was among the VIPs who attended the event.
He said: “This is actually the second year of One Big Lunch. I think it’s fantastic. Compared to last year it’s got bigger and bigger. This whole event is to bring the community together and it’s working. It worked last year and it’s working better this year. There are people actually coming now form other areas to join in this One Big Lunch. It’s absolutely brilliant.
“I’ve got to know people I possibly might not have got to know and I’ve been living here years.
“It’s inter-generational, we have children here, their mothers and fathers. We have got their grandmothers- two, three generations.”
Mayor Of Derry & Strabane Elisha McCallion was another of the VIPs who turned up to take part.
She said: “This is obviously coming on the back of the Eden Project launching the Big Lunch a number of years ago, and ever since we have had community organisations such as this doing these type of events and they are very much welcomed, they are embraced by the entire community.”