North Canterbury’s angels
Nothing brings people together more than food, and what better way to get to know others than by sitting around a table together to share food and conversation?
Which is why Larina TiffenFuller, aka Miss Lilly, is organising the world’s biggest pot luck lunch as part of her efforts to help connect communities in the wake of last year’s 7.8 earthquake.
Prior to the Christchurch earthquakes Tiffen-Fuller worked for eight years as a trauma counsellor but after losing three homes in her immediate family in Christchurch and Kaiapoi, she decided it was time for a change of focus.
‘‘I set up [boutique catering business] Miss Lilly’s Catering, and when the Kaikoura earthquake hit I was in a position to pay it forward.
‘‘It organically went from an idea to ‘boom’ five days later.’’
Tiffen-Fuller coordinated the team which sent tonnes of food up to the quake-stricken town, including on a navy ship and countless helicopters.
Coordinating the mammoth effort from her home in Rangiora, she began to take an interest in all those coming with offers of donations and help.
‘‘Out of all the complete strangers that rocked in here, each one was for a different reason.
‘‘I wanted to tell those people’s stories of courage and journey as inspiration for the community.’’
Tiffen-Fuller interviewed 30 of those people, who came together ‘‘for a purpose greater than their own’’, she said.
The stories included one woman who was giving birth in a water bath when the quake struck, and another with a newborn baby and sick mother.
‘‘She ended up giving away her kidney to her mother and she is now running a marathon.
‘‘For her, it was about valuing everything for what it was.’’
Those inspiring stories are now at the centre of TiffenFuller’s book, Coming Together, which will be launched at the pot luck lunch in Christchurch’s red zone on November 12.
A family recipe is included with each story.
Tiffen-Fuller hopes the pot luck lunch, which is expected to be attended by more than 3,000 people, will provide a means to connect neighbours and communities, helping people feel less isolated and allowing them to be better prepared.
‘‘The book is not just about those 30 families, it’s about the wider community, but also we want to show we are not a onetrick pony, we are here for the long-haul.’’
The proceeds of the book will go to the Miss Lilly’s Angels Trust to help in the next disaster.
The Trust is also in discussion with civil defence minister Nathan Guy about a 10-stage rollout to improve response efficiency when a disaster strikes.
‘‘We live on the Alpine Fault and the reality is it will happen again.
‘‘The beautiful things is that no-on has yet said ‘no’ – people know this is actually needed.’’
With a raft of other events she wants to run, Tiffen-Fuller would love to hear from more volunteers who would like to get involved.
Visit misslillysangels.org, find Miss Lilly’s Angels Trust on Facebook, or search cometogether on pledgeme.co.nz to volunteer, sponsor a pot luck table, or find out more.