French Sunday Lunch

The French Sunday Lunch is held annually, usually, in May. The next one is currently pencilled in for Sunday 15th May 2022, get it in your calendar!!. It is a good excuse to have a get together with some familiar faces from Shelley and surrounding villages.


Further details will be available nearer the time. In the meantime, here is a reminder of one of the previous French Sunday Lunches! (and scroll down past the photographs to find out more about how the French Sunday Lunch started and what it entails!!

 I chose the Yorkshire Air Ambulance as my chairman’s Charity when I was elected as Chairman of Kirkburton Parish Council in May 2005 and my target was to raise £2000 during my year of office.


Having enjoyed many Sunday lunches at a country auberge near Boulogne over several years, I tried to replicate the scenario here in Shelley, paysan style, long tables bearing vases of flowers, different types of wine in pichets (jugs), still water in bottles, water ‘gazeuse’ and the absolute must, French bread sticks, even before the meal had started. Diners arrived to the sound of French accordion music and songs by Edith Piaf. When it got to the point where the cacophony  of sound from the dinners greeting their friends drowned the music, it was switched off!


The Shelley version  of the French Sunday lunch differed from that in Boulogne in several ways.  French bunting and a large tricolour decorated our Village Hall and we played “Heads or Tails” to raise more money for the Charity. Sometimes we held a raffle and other times we had role play for amusement, including a mock election for the French presidency on the very day that the real election was held in France. The result at the Village Hall differed from that in France but it was declared null and void because it was found to be rigged! One time we felt highly privileged to have a surprise “Royal visit “ from “Prince Harry and Meghan” as it was the first day of their honeymoon! Most years our MP and Kirklees Mayor attended.


The cost of the meal did not include a service charge (service non compris) but a collection was taken at the end of the meal by which time the diners were in a very generous mood! Young people volunteered as servers and were rewarded with a share of the collection, a free meal, and a certificate of good citizenship from the Community Association for supporting a charity.


Returning to the year that I was Chairman of Kirkburton Parish Council, the French Sunday Lunch raised £398.50 falling well short of my target of £2000. So I embarked on a series of further fund raising events, finally raising a total of £5,051.03 during my year of office, 2005-2006. This included £580.09 for a second French Sunday Lunch that year.


The first 3 French Sunday Lunches were prepared “in house” by local residents but with rising popularity it became too much for the two of them. Since then “Simply Splendid Solutions” (Andrea Morley) took over as professional caterers and made it the tremendous success that it is!

Andrea has adhered to the typical 5 course French menu.Those who have attended will agree that her French onion soup is legendary!  Between the second and third courses, diners are offered a “trou normand”, a “digestif” which is lemon sorbet with a small measure of Calvados, a  Normandy apple  brandy. In keeping with French tradition, the cheese course is served before the sweet.


Over the 14 years that the French Sunday Lunch has run, several charities have benefitted, mainly Yorkshire Air Ambulance, Kirkwood Hospice and the Royal British Legion. The highest attendance has been 119  and the highest amount it has raised for a  charity for a single year was £939.59 (2019).

Regrettably, the event was cancelled last year because of the pandemic. At the time of writing, it is unclear whether it will be able to take place in 2021, and in what numbers.  Let us hope that the French Sunday lunch will be able to return soon. We are all ready to enjoy good food, good company and, above all some fun!

Written by Malcolm MacDonald