Community lunch provides silver lining for weather-struck Ellingham Show

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Ellingham Show
More than 300 people enjoyed the pop-up restaurant at Greyfriars community centre in Ringwood

THE clouds, wind and rain that cancelled the Ellingham Show were gilded with a silver lining when more than £2,000 was raised by serving up the unused food at a community party.

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Rather than go to waste, the spread intended for members’ lunches at the Somerley Estate venue on Saturday was instead donated to the Greyfriars community centre in Ringwood which hosted a pop-up restaurant.

More than 300 people came to the impromptu event from which diners’ donations went back to support the show – which every year raises up to £30,000 for local good causes.

Ellingham Show
Diners were asked to donate what they could afford to help support the Ellingham Show

A reported in the A&T, the popular annual event – which has been running since 1947 – was called off with an announcement on Friday which cited safety concerns amid Met Office weather warnings of winds up to 50mph.

The idea for the community meal came from Teresa Sillars, who runs Ringwood catering firm South Coast Parties which had been contracted by the show for the first time.

She told the A&T she had almost halved the bill to aid the show but rather than be paid for food that no body ate, she teamed up with Greyfriars to use it as a way of channelling some cash back to the organisers.

Teresa, who regularly runs pop-up dining events there, said: “It was really disappointing after the cancellation but then the mood lifted when we started planning Saturday.

“All the lunches were done: the salmon cooked, the ham prepared and the beef carved. It would have been put in the tip, which would have been criminal to waste food like that.

“The response was awesome. It was amazing. I was only disappointed we could not book everyone in.”

Ellingham Show
Teresa Sillars runs Ringwood catering firm South Coast Parties

Centre manager Claire Alexander said messages were sent out to Greyfriars members, bookings reorganised and staff tasked with the extra function which from midday filled seven rooms for about three hours.

She said: “It was incredible to see the power of social media to rally everybody. It created an amazing event and people were queueing out the door.

“From our point of view it was an amazing feeling of how brilliant our community is.”

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