Skip to main content


10th November 2020

Food crusaderand ex-restauranteurTony Gibbons whose recipe for success includesonline cookery workshops and healthy ingredient deliveries, has been awarded a 2020 National Lottery Award in the Education category.

Tony Gibbons and his National Lottery Award

Tony, from Dorset, set up The Friendly Food Club in 2005 to address the lack of educationand confidence among struggling families about healthy and nutritious food. He started weekly cooking workshops to encourage families to cook together, have fun and learn about nutrition at the same time. A believer in ‘pester power’, he set out to encourage children to persuade parents to shop smarter and embrace a healthier lifestyle. Following the outbreak of COVID-19, families were no longer able to meet for Tony’s cooking classes. However, the 81-year-oldcooked-up a complete restructure of the club’s free classes. So, Tony and a team of wonderful volunteers created aCookbox -each one attractively packaged and containing all the ingredients to make healthy meals together, plus quizzes, games, facts about the food and activities to support home learning. Tony encouraged recipients to share the meals they made via their social media channels in order to keep them engaged in healthy eating and nutrition, as well as socialising with other families. By August, he had delivered over 3,400 boxes to struggling families. He is continuing to support families all across Dorset (including Bournemouth, Poole, Swanage and Weymouth) as England enters a second lockdown.

Tony and volunteers preparing his Cookboxes

Today, Tony has been named winner of the Education category in the 2020 National Lottery Awardsand he received a congratulatory message from BBC Saturday Kitchen star and celebrity chef Matt Tebbutt.

“I am a strong believer that food is a catalyst for so many things – confidence, improved health and making friends – and that is why, thanks to National Lottery funding, I have been able to continue my work with The Friendly Food Club and make a difference to the lives of families who need the Club most.”

Tony said:

Matt Tebbutt commended the lockdown legend’s work

“Tony’s Friendly Food Club is absolutely vital for educating and engaging so many families in the importance of healthy eating. It’s also an incredible organisation for getting vulnerable people together to support one another –especially through these challenging times. Thanks to National Lottery players, they have made a massive difference to the lives of so many families –well done Tony!”

Tony has been awarded £3,000 in prize money to support his project – which he will be using for a special Christmas Cookbox to send out to families who need it most. Almost 5,000 extraordinary individuals were nominated for a 2020 National LotteryAward –the annual search for the UK’s favourite National Lottery funded people and projects. They celebrate the inspirational individuals who do extraordinary things with the help of National Lottery funding.In November 2016, The Friendly Food Club received £10,000 of National Lottery funding. In February 2020 the project received a National Lottery grant of £14,736, followed by a grant of £11,800 in May 2020 allowing the project to continue delivering Cookboxes throughoutlockdown.

National Lottery players raisearound £30 million to good causes every week.Since the outbreak of COVID-19, The National Lottery has distributedsupport packages of up to £600 million across arts, sports, heritage, education and the environment.