More than 1,000 people enjoyed the biggest picnic in Reading on Saturday.

For the first time since the start of the pandemic, Reading Town Meal took place in Forbury Gardens.

Students from Reading College served up free two-course meals using donated fruit and vegetables, alongside live bands, family fun activities and stalls owned by local producers.

Shyla Shaw, 16, a professional culinary arts student at Reading College, said: “I’ve never taken part in anything like this before and it’s really interesting.

“It’s helped me to learn how to work as a kitchen and prepare big bulk meals, communicate with each other and taught me to speak up when you need something.

“I made all of the Focaccia bread with one of my friends, who’s also studying the same programme as me.”

Read more: Reading College to serve 1,000 free plates at Town Meal

Alongside Focaccia, the main course was a vegetable ragù served with potatoes and salad and for dessert there was an apple and pear crumble.

The event is put together by a the lottery-funded group project Food4Families alongside Reading Food Growing Network, Reading Borough Council and others.

Their aim is to promote home grown and locally-produced food, supported by sponsors like the Big Lottery Fund, Reading Climate Change Partnership and The Earley Charity.

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Intern at Reading Town Meal Naomi Coker said: “I would like to say a big thank you to all the volunteers that helped out on the day.

“We managed to set up and pack away quicker than ever before, and the day ran without a hitch.

“ We simply would not be able to run such an amazing event without the help of our great volunteers.

“The Reading College students had such an enormous impact on the day."