Tables are set for third Loneliness campaign-inspired Friendship Lunch

The Durham Ox owner Michael Ibbotson with Robert Turl and Micky Johnson at the first Friendship Lunch in February.''''Picture James Hardisty
The Durham Ox owner Michael Ibbotson with Robert Turl and Micky Johnson at the first Friendship Lunch in February.''''Picture James Hardisty
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A FRIENDSHIP lunch that launched on the first anniversary of The Yorkshire Post’s loneliness campaign will return for a third time on Monday.

More than 120 people attended the first two events at The Durham Ox in Crayke, which aim to get people to reach out to members of their community who feel lonely or may not get out of the house much, and invite them along to share a meal.

More than 70 people attended the first Friendship Lunch in February.''''Picture James Hardisty

More than 70 people attended the first Friendship Lunch in February.''''Picture James Hardisty

Michael Ibbotson, managing director of Provenance Inns, which owns the Durham Ox, was inspired to start the event by the Loneliness: The Hidden Epidemic campaign, which was launched by The Yorkshire Post in February last year to highlight the heartbreaking scale of those suffering from loneliness in the region.

With the increasing number of village shops and community facilities closing, Mr Ibbotson believes rural communities are increasingly relying on pubs community cohesions.

The Friendship Lunches have been supported by Age UK North Yorkshire, along with community groups and local parish councils.

Mr Ibbotson said: “When we first sat down and came up with the idea of The Friendship Lunch, we hoped it would be well received, little did we realise just how much need there was for such an event. The atmosphere and buzz in the pub is wonderful, and the reactions of those attending and the positive feedback heartwarming.

“Over 50 guests booked for the March lunch, with a mix of new and old faces to both The Ox and the event. Friendship is a great medicine, and for many of those who attend, getting out and about for an hour or so, makes the world of difference.

“Sharing a plate of good food, around a table full of chatter, doesn’t sound like much and for many of us we take it for granted - but we shouldn’t. The Friendship Lunch reminds us of that.”

For more information, or to book a table at the lunch, contact The Durham Ox on 01347 821506 or visit www.thedurhamox.com. Transport help can be arranged.