Banbury International

When we set up Visit Banbury we were absolutely determined to promote everything that was positive and community focused about Banbury.IMG_5154

We think we’ve done a reasonable job so far with lots of events, lots of social media supporting local businesses, organisations, events and people and a fair amount of community cohesion to help bring people together around the town.

However, eighteen months ago we never dreamt that we would be needing to promote community cohesion in the way we feel we need to now.

Recent events have meant that both anecdotally and via official reports, the UK is seeing an increase in the amount of hate, racism and xenophobia shown to people who just days ago were treated exactly like the rest of us.

We know for many people this is not a new phenomenon as they have frequently experienced racism but for a whole group of people who have made the UK their home, all of a sudden the UK rather than being a tolerant, welcoming and open society has become at best unfriendly and at worst hostile and nasty.


So having attended BBC Breakfast’s Live TV broadcast from Banbury market place on Saturday morning Steve Gold and I sat and had a cup of tea at the Whistling Kettle and decided that irrespective of the political pros and cons, Visit Banbury needed to make some sort of stand in solidarity with all of the nationalities living and working in Banbury.

We decided to be the catalyst for a wider group of people to be able to show that they too were standing in solidarity with their neighbours regardless of race nationality or ethnicity.

And so was born “Banbury International”.

Banbury-Internation-Facebook-Group-Cover-Image (1)On Sunday morning, after quickly making contact with a number of different groups including Jake and the Banbury Community Action Group, the community focused folks at Naomi’s café, a network of positive individuals linked to a Visit Banbury initiative and also a dedicated Visit Banbury French speakers group in and around Banbury, we suggested to hold an event on Saturday 16th July in the BCAG Community Garden behind Naomi’s café and in order to quickly organise it, set up a closed Facebook Group for anyone who wanted to be involved.

After about 6 hours, 31 people were in the group and the event had been pretty much set up except for a few more specific details.

Following lots of frenetic messaging and emailing on Sunday afternoon and Monday, a group of us got together on Tuesday evening to finalise some of the details and the result of that is a free community event starting at 12pm which will be bringing together all of the communities in Banbury in a show of friendship solidarity and peace.

There is going to be live music, arts and crafts, activities for the children, a big table for everyone to bring food and share it amongst themselves and a pay bar at Naomi’s café.

There will also be a symbolic tree planting as a lasting sign of our community growing together.

Other details as yet are a little bit fluid as we want this to be an organically developing event, not too structured but more about being together sharing a common bond as human beings who just happen to live and work in Banbury.

Please keep an eye out for a Facebook event and posters and flyers around town in the coming days and please share them with all of your contacts so that as many members of the diverse communities attend and continue to build strong bonds across the town.

As some of you may know, the Visit Banbury initiative is based on ideas and an ethos developed by the Eden Project called The Big Lunch and Big Lunch Extras and we think this is a fitting way to continue to develop and sustain an amazing community network in Banbury.

Big love to you all and let’s make friendship and community a stronger force than fear and hatred.



Eating together makes you happier

Taking the time to sit down together over a meal helps create social networks that in turn have profound effects on our physical and mental health, our happiness and wellbeing, and even our sense of purpose in life.

There is a growing number of Big Lunches taking place across Banbury and they are so easy to organise – go for it ! See the Facebook page Banbury Big Lunchers.

For more on organising a Big Lunch, see The Big Lunch info

The above blog was published on

BYHP Big Lunch Day

Well – the big day is here – we will blog about the #BYHPBigLunch afterwards but here are a few images to give you a feel for what awaits you at BYHP from 12 to 5 today !  

 If you are coming, please don’t forget to bring a dish of food to share, some non-alcoholic drink, a fold up chair or two, a homemade cake to enter into our BYHP Big Lunch Bake Off competition, a few pounds for raffle tickets as we have a mega list of prizes to be won – and your sunglasses !!  




The Banbury Big Lunch blog part 1

Hopefully by now you would have understood that one of the core values of the Visit Banbury project is Community.

What you may not know is the Visit Banbury project is born out of an amazing initiative established by the guys at the Eden Project in Cornwall called the Big Lunch.


In 2009 the Eden Project released an idea across the UK, a very simple idea, to sit down with your neighbours for a few hours on one day of the year and to share lunch. And that was it. 

A very simple idea of how to get together and start to build a community, even without actively thinking that you are building a community.

Some of us, having seen an advert for the Big Lunch, decided that we would run around for the next six weeks and put together a street party in Queens Road, Banbury.

There were a few challenges at times but mainly everybody was really supportive and we got the road closed, insurance, entertainment, a bouncy castle, music, food, fun games and lots and lots of people altogether and we had a wonderful party despite the terrible British weather. 

In fact, the terrible British weather actually helped, because when it rained we all huddled under a gazebo,  we all put food on one single table and shared it amongst ourselves and we started to talk and we build friendships and those friendships have lasted nearly 7 years so far.

And that is kind of it, a very simple idea to get together and share food and conversation and laughter, with a few – or many – of your neighbours to build a network, a community, a resilient, supportive group of people, who are there for each other in the good times and the fun times but also in the difficult times. 

People often hark back to the good old days; well this is one example of how you can turn back the clock to re-establish a community amongst your closest of neighbours so that you don’t feel isolated, alone, afraid or bored!

Nowadays there is always something going on – a party, a book club, a sports event, a chat, a coffee and meetings about all sorts of things, including the next Big Lunch street party!!

This year, after attending the next phase called Big Lunch Extras at the Eden Project, we decided that it was time to encourage others around Banbury to hold their own Big Lunches.

So the Visit Banbury project have set up a Facebook group and we are actively supporting other people around Banbury in the organising and setting up of their own big lunch events.

This year, Queens Road is holding our sixth Big Lunch with the theme of “60s 70s flower power festival”. It will be a chance to dig out the  flowery shirts and bellbottom trousers; everything to do with festivals but also creativity with floral displays and decorations to brighten up the whole street.

As usual, there will be bring-and-share food and lots of it, fun for the kids with the bouncy castle, live music, face painting, competitions such as the best dressed front garden, our mega raffle and lots of fun, smiles and laughter. 

What could be better than a day when the street outside our front doors is cleared of cars, the road is empty and the kids can run up and down or cycle up and down in safety and the knowledge that they are part of a growing community.

For more about the Big Lunch in Queens Road see:

And lots of fab photos from previous years’ events:

The second part of this blog will focus on some of the other events being organised around Banbury – the main Big Lunch day around the UK is 6 weeks from today, so still plenty of time to organise your get together for that day or an alternative date later in the Summer.

My new life…

Hi – probably if you are reading this you have received a message from me saying goodbye to all of my colleagues and business associates on my last day in the office, working for Xerox. 

As I said, my future is not yet fully defined but all I know is that the Visit Banbury project is going to feature heavily in it for the foreseeable future, whatever I end up doing longer term.

If you are interested in knowing more, take a look at the posts within this blog and keep an eye of in the coming months to see a big step in our project, the Visit Banbury Hub. 

 This will showcase all that is positive and exciting about Banbury and it will also explain what we are doing to make Banbury residents feel a sense of community, pride and happiness about living in the town. 

 To understand more about how I arrived at this decision take a look at these two videos which have helped inspire me: 

The Big Lunch Extras Project 

Simon Sinek “Start with Why” 

 What I would LOVE you to help me with is some funding – we are going to working hard exploring every avenue to generate revenue and obtain funding support, but in start up mode of a social enterprise it isn’t easy and so we are going to be doing a Crowd Funding activity in the near future.

If you feel I have ever contributed to your success in any way over my almost 20 years in Xerox, please help me by supporting this venture with whatever you can.

If you want to contact me about this directly before we launch the Crowd Funding activity please email me on or contact @VisitBanbury on Twitter. 

 Many thanks & big love to you and yours! 


Tim Tarby-Donald 

Founder – Visit Banbury




Promoting Community in Banbury

Hello ! One of the core values upon which the Visit Banbury project is based is Community.

Many of us in the project team have been involved in building a strong, cohesive community in a Queens Road, Banbury and so we thought “why keep it to ourselves?”.

So, the Visit Banbury team is actively promoting 2 nationwide initiatives which will help people get to know their neighbours and to build strong, resilient communities.

These initiatives are The Big Lunch 

and Streetbank 

and we have set up local Banbury Facebook pages to share ideas, offer help and to encourage and enthuse.

So, be brave, take the first step & #getinvolved !