North Can­ter­bury’s an­gels

Northern Outlook - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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