Belfast Telegraph

Royal couple hailed for backing Big Lunch togetherness project

Duchess of Cornwall pets a dog during visit to Lisnaskea
Duchess of Cornwall pets a dog during visit to Lisnaskea
The royal couple cut a cake during the Big Lunch celebration of community
Prince Charles meets local businesspeople

By Michael McHugh

Charles and Camilla are underpinning a Big Lunch project benefiting six million people a year, one of its organisers has said.

They joined community volunteers and schoolchildren in Lisnaskea in Co Fermanagh who enjoyed a spread of scones and cream and copious cups of tea on long communal tables.

The Big Lunch is a National Lottery-funded project intended to bring people together.

Peter Stewart, a director at the Eden Project educational charity and social enterprise, said it was like the US Thanksgiving holiday, but for neighbours.

"Your Royal Highness, forgive me, because it is her Royal Highness who in fact in our eyes is the star of the show," he said.

"You are a passionate man in underpinning this.

"You are almost like a good wind under our wings."

Camilla chatted with staff from Fermanagh's Oak Healthy Living Centre during their visit to the Archdale Centre in the lakeland county yesterday afternoon.

She loved the "caterpillars", kebab-style sticks skewering green grapes with a strawberry on top, those who met her said.

The bananas had red bandana-style decorations on them and were devoured by the youngsters.

The Prince of Wales is greeted by DUP leader Arlene Foster as the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Karen Bradley (left) and UUP leader Robin Swann (right) look on, during the Prince's visit with the Duchess of Cornwall, for a garden party at Castle Coole in Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh.
The Prince of Wales is greeted by DUP leader Arlene Foster as the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Karen Bradley (left) and UUP leader Robin Swann (right) look on, during the Prince's visit with the Duchess of Cornwall, for a garden party at Castle Coole in Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh.
The Prince of Wales meeting Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley at a garden party at Castle Coole in Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh.Liam McBurney/PA Wire
The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall meeting guests at a garden party at Castle Coole in Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
The Prince of Wales meeting guests at a garden party at Castle Coole in Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh. Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Prince of Wales waves goodbye to invited guests as he departed with the Duchess of Cornwall after garden party at Castle Coole in Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday May 21, 2019. See PA story ROYAL Tour. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
The Prince of Wales signs the guest book of Castle Coole with the Duchess of Cornwall, after garden party in Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Invited guest await the arrival of the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall to a garden party at Castle Coole in Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday May 21, 2019. See PA story ROYAL Tour. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Police Service of Northern Ireland Chief Constable George Hamilton with Peter Sheridan at the garden party at Castle Coole in Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh. Photo credit: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
DUP leader Arlene Foster with Police Service of Northern Ireland Chief Constable George Hamilton and wife at the garden party at Castle Coole in Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley with Canon David Ferry and wife Lynne at the garden party at Castle Coole in Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh. Picture: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Northern Ireland Secretary for State Karen Bradley, arriving at Castle Coole in Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh, before a garden party with the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley meets guide dog Morris with owner Diane Marks as Stephen Pound MP looks on at the garden party at Castle Coole in Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh. Picture: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
DUP leader Arlene Foster at the garden party at Castle Coole in Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley and Stephen Pound MP at the garden party at Castle Coole in Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall before departing a garden party at Castle Coole in Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh.
The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall before departing a garden party at Castle Coole in Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh
The Prince of Wales waves goodbye to invited guests as he departed with the Duchess of Cornwall after garden party at Castle Coole in Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday May 21, 2019. See PA story ROYAL Tour. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
The Castle Coole guest book signed by the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall after a garden party hosted at Castle Coole in Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday May 21, 2019. See PA story ROYAL Tour. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
The Prince of Wales meeting guests during a garden party at Castle Coole in Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday May 21, 2019. See PA story ROYAL Tour. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

Mr Stewart said the National Lottery had funded six million people a year to enjoy a Big Lunch.

"It just seems everything we do, it just seems to be more and more challenges for all of us," he said. "It feels sometimes that we are like a fish going the wrong way up the stream - it is really hard.

"The challenges that we have are global, national, local, massive.

"We think that if we actually got together a bit in terms of creating happier, more resilient, stronger communities, at least we will be better placed to be able to take that on."

The healthy living centre works with people from birth to old age and provides mental health and physical activity programmes as well as encouraging healthy eating.

In an open air area known as the Cornmarket the smell of bacon filled the air.

Patrick O'Doherty (58) explained the "ancient" bacon they made in Fermanagh, which he said was the oldest type in Ireland.

The method died out during the 1960s and he resurrected it and named it Fermanagh Black Bacon, based in nearby Enniskillen, from pigs grazing on an island in Lough Erne.

The bacon was originally cooked in hay, immersed in boiling water with herbs and then poached gently.

Mr O'Doherty said: "The prince, he is a good man with a knife, he cut open the hay and you had to slice it and it is the most beautiful bacon you will ever eat, it is lovely and moist.

"He really enjoyed it."

Charles was also shown an old trick from the butchery trade which involved knotting a string and pulling it.

Mr O'Doherty said: "He was very impressed with it. It is not often you get a fist pump from a prince so it was a good day's craic. He has a great sense of humour."

The royal couple met a number of well-wishers gathered on the street outside and visited a local shop, while Camilla petted a terrier.

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