TV Chef and GBBO favourite Manon Lagreve joined Eltham resident Amit Patel and his ‘celebrity’ guide dog for a very special lunch.
Amit Patel from South East London credits community support for helping him cope with losing his sight. He is now passionate about reminding people of the importance of being good neighbours and reigniting community spirit, not just in his local area, but right across the UK.
“I moved to Eltham three years ago and found it hard adjusting to a new place that I couldn’t see,” says Amit. “The neighbours were so welcoming and helpful that I wanted to find a way to say thank you. I hand delivered 300 invites on the surrounding roads and I’m absolutely delighted with the turn out today. One neighbour who has lived on my street for 50 years said this is the first street party they’ve had since 1977. “
“Over the last few weeks so many different people of all ages, have knocked on my door asking what they can do to help, or ask about what they should bring. It’s really made me feel like I am part of a community. This is what neighbourhoods should be like.”
Created by The Eden project and supported by The National Lottery, The Big Lunch is a simple idea – that for a few hours once a year, neighbours across the UK come together for lunch to get to know each other better.
“I wanted to take part in the Big Lunch as it’s a great excuse to get your neighbours together. There are thousands of events like this happening right across the UK and it makes me happy to think about that. I’m really proud of my road and my neighbours. I hope this is the start of lots more local gatherings, so we can all benefit from being good neighbours.”
In 2017 Amit decided to film his daily interactions with people on a GoPro strapped to the back of his Guide Dog Kika. The footage revealed a shocking perspective on the world, where people pushed and shoved the pair. Circulated on social media, the videos drew wide spread media attention. Amit and Kika’s story featured in lots of newspapers, and the pair appeared on radio and TV. Amit now wants to show people everywhere that by coming together we can create an inclusive society for all.
Great British Bake Off favourite and Big Lunch Ambassador, Manon Lagreve, was delighted to be invited. “Amit is doing such a great job of bringing people together,” she says. “It’s so nice to see different groups of people sharing food, recipes, chatting and helping each other. Growing up in France we always had neighbourhood get-togethers, so this is a nice reminder of home. I love living in London and I’m proud to be a part of something that helps to bring people together. Amit should be really proud of what he’s achieved today and I hope his neighbours enjoyed my strawberry cakes!”