Bethnal Green’s Teesdale tenants shortlisted for Big Lunch award

Margaret Cox showing Prince Charles round Bethnal Green's Teesdale estate in December 2012

Margaret Cox showing Prince Charles round Bethnal Green's Teesdale estate in December 2012 - Credit: Big Lunch

Two women who helped clean up their crime-ridden estate in London’s East End have been shortlisted for a national award for transforming their neighbourhood since organising their first Big Lunch event.

Margaret Cox and Sarah Beydoun who run the tenants’ association on Bethnal Green’s Teesdale & Hollybush estate have made it onto the list of 35 community groups around the country for the Big Lunch awards later this month, beating hundreds of applications.

“We underestimated the lasting effect when we planned our first Big Lunch in 2011,” Margaret explained. “But it’s been great organising it and wonderful that our work has been recognised.”

Their tenants organisation has been busy sprucing up wasteland and disused open spaces, injecting pride into the neighbourhood which had been plagued by yobs and drug addicts before.

The Big Lunch they organise every year gives families something to look forward to and bridges the social gaps, getting neighbours more involved in other projects such as food growing and environmental schemes.

Their work impressed Prince Charles and Camilla when the royal couple toured the estate in December. Camilla spoke of their projects as “an example which should be rolled out across London.”

Five community projects are being selected from the shortlist as finalists to attend a private ceremony at Clarence House on April 23, to receive awards from the Duchess of Cornwall who is patron of The Big Lunch.

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The judging panel includes ‘East Enders’ and ‘Carry On’ star Babs Windsor, the ‘street party ambassador’ to London Mayor Boris Johnson.

Babs said: “Having a bite to eat together and enjoying a good old knees-up in your street is a marvellous way to get talking to the neighbours.”

The annual Big Lunch to encourage neighbours to get together one day a year for a few hours involved more than eight million people taking part last summer. This year’s bash is June 2, the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s coronation.