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The Big Breakfast

by Wendy Machin | Events, Organisations

The Big Breakfast.
Many people in Bishopsteignton have enjoyed the ‘Big Breakfasts’ at the Community Centre, which have now been successfully taken on by a group of friends in the village, supported by the Scouts. The funds raised are donated to support various charitable causes.
This is the story of how and why these breakfasts started.

The Big Breakfast

Many people in Bishopsteignton have enjoyed the ‘Big Breakfasts’ at the Community Centre, which have now been successfully taken on by a group of friends in the village, supported by the Scouts. The funds raised are donated to support various charitable causes.
This is the story of how and why these breakfasts started.

This is how it began

Just before the Millennium, we came to live in this village, after returning from Zambia, where we had worked as volunteers. For a few years, we had been supporting a project in Ndola, Zambia, but on a shoestring!  Here in Devon we found a group of warm hearted and generous people, who were willing to work together to help the desperately poor community of Kantolomba, near Ndola.

The crisis in Zambia

Kantolomba is a small, isolated township, near Ndola, in the Copperbelt. At the time it had no school or clinic or any other services and there were hundreds of orphans and vulnerable children there. This was due to extreme poverty and to the devastating AIDS pandemic, which had wiped out so many people in Zambia, especially younger people. It was mainly grandparents who were struggling to look after the sick and the young children, with little or no support. Often the children were obliged to go onto the streets to get money, thus putting themselves at great risk. Many were malnourished and did not attend school because their families could not afford books, clothes and shoes for them.

How did we help?

In 2001 the Bishopsteignton group started fundraising and working with local people in Kantolomba : together we acquired an old disused building, which could be used as a community school. The building work was designed and overseen by an engineer from this village and was completed by the end of 2003.

Zambian child beneficiary of the Big Breakfast fund raising

Very soon there were more than 200 children attending the school every day, where they also received food, clothes and medical attention. All this needed a lot of funding and the local community here in Bishopsteignton was always supportive and involved   We became a UK registered Charity in 2003. Members of the committee and other volunteers from Devon visited Zambia regularly, to offer advice, training and practical help to Kantolomba and to another community project near Lusaka. We also sponsored some young Zambian students through school and University and are still in contact with all of them.

Alan working with the Zambian children

Alan working with the Zambian children

Local Fundraising events

Since 2001, we have organised lots of fundraising events in the village and beyond. There have been ‘Taste of Africa’ meals, where local musicians performed music from Africa, Quizzes, Bring and Buy sales, Craft fairs, Cabaret Nights, sponsored runs and cycles and coffee mornings, to name but a few.  The local community of Bishopsteignton, with its organisations and Churches has been incredibly generous, and many individuals have given their time, money and talents to help the families of Kantolomba.

Wendy with some of the students

Wendy with some of the students

The Big Breakfasts were probably the most successful and popular events we organised and have become almost like a village institution over the last few years. Local volunteers cook wonderful food, serve and wash up and the villagers are happy to pay a modest price for, not just a superb breakfast, but also a wonderful opportunity to meet up and chat.  It is wonderful to see them continuing to do so well.

Peter Brunt in Zambia

Peter Brunt in Zambia

What is the situation now?

In 2015 we were able to hand over all buildings and other assets we had funded to the Community of Kantolomba, which has now become largely self-sufficient. They still access some funding from other charitable sources and the Zambia Government offers some support, though not nearly enough. We de-registered as a UK Charity in 2015 and since then have kept in touch with Kantolomba informally. We still talk to the team regularly and, although operating on a shoestring, they are coping. There are still lots of things they need, but they are doing well and things in Zambia have improved overall.

Children that have benefited from the Big Breakfst

Children that have benefited from the Big Breakfast

Zambian students hard at work

Zambian students hard at work

Thank you

We want to thank all the individuals and organisations in this village who have given so much in the past; the musicians, the teachers, social workers, managers, foster carers, engineers, artists, organisers and others who have taken the community of Kantolomba to their hearts. We shall be visiting our Zambian friends again later this year and will carry your good wishes with us.

Thank you from Wendy and Alan and all the Families for Children Zambia committee.


In November 2011 the committee of Families for Children Zambia started the Big Breakfasts as a means of raising funds to support the work of the charity in two very poor townships in Zambia. We held nine big breakfasts between then and June 2015 when the charity de-registered. Thanks to the generosity of all the villagers who came for breakfast during that time we were able to raise £8,700 to help feed, educate and improve the quality of life of children in these very deprived areas.

The Breakfasts proved so popular we decided to carry on with the aim of supporting similar children’s charities and Save the Children was chosen for the amazing work they do with children suffering in the most terrible circumstances in Syria, the Yemen, and most recently in Rohingya where 300,000 children have lost their homes, seen their families massacred and are at risk of abuse, exploitation, and trafficking. Through the Big Breakfasts we have held for Save the Children we have been able to send over £3,000 to support these children.

In addition, we held a Breakfast for Myeloma UK a charity in memory of the husband of a friend who helped us start the Big Breakfasts. This raised £700 for research into finding a cure for the rare disease Amyloidosis.

We have been delighted to support our wonderful local scout troop and their event raised £1,100. Since then scouts have helped at every Big Breakfast and are a credit to their leaders, families and themselves.

By donating £200 from the Big Breakfast in November 2017 we enabled the Air Ambulance Appeal to meet their target for the Landing Pad lights at Michael’s Field.

Last but not least we are glad to have made a donation of £200 to the Community Centre for providing us with an excellent venue and being ever helpful with the booking and arrangements.

After seven years and sixteen Big Breakfasts we have decide the time has come to pass the mantle or should I say ‘frying pan’ to a wonderful group who will carry on with the Big Breakfasts, which feel as though they are now a well-established regular village event

In particular, we would like to thank Tim Martin for donating nearly 1,000 delicious eggs, Lori Reichs for her wonderful marmalade and jams, and the Thursday Art group for profits from their Art Sale. Without the fantastic group of volunteers who have helped with shopping, raffles, setting up, cooking, plating up, making coffee, washing up, serving, waiting on tables, sorting out the finance, providing music, and clearing up, the Big Breakfasts could not have happened and they have been a hard-working, committed and amazing team.

Most of all our sincere thanks to all of you who have come for breakfast and have generously supported us and helped to improve the lives of thousands of children. Please go on supporting the new team and enjoying a Big Breakfast.

From notes by Helen Boyd on behalf of the ‘retiring’ Big Breakfast team.

Big Breakfast poster
The New Big Breakfasteers

And so the Big Breakfast continues. By the time of the fourth event run by the new crew a total of £1,548.24  has been raised for Save the Children and £250 for Teignmouth Rugby Club Juniors. The event continues to be incredibly popular and draw an ever larger crowd.  It provides a great meeting place for neighbours and strangers, a great place to share food and conversation. Long may it last.

Charity breakfast is served

The next dates can be found on , the raffle is open to any local charity to come and run and new team members are always welcome.


colour photo of the new Big Breakfast crew

The New Big Breakfast crew



Photograph of Zambian children courtesy of Wendy Machin.