Finlay’s pie comes out top

Finlay O'Neill, with his winning dish.
Finlay O'Neill, with his winning dish.

An Alnwick family is leading the charge for families to reclaim their mealtimes together after winning an annual event to get the nation cooking.

The Children’s Food Trust, a charity on a mission to get children eating well, has crowned the O’Neill family winners of the Big Cookathon 2016, which challenged families, friends, schools and organisations across the country to cook a nutritious, easy recipe from scratch.

Nine-year-old Finlay took charge in the kitchen, cooking the official Big Cookathon Cottage Pie with mum Zoe, 35, dad Steve, 54, and little brother Ewan, four.

Zoe said: “We really enjoy eating together as a family. Ewan is quite fussy, so I think it helps him to eat a bit more if we are all together at the table. I do most of the cooking but Fin and Ewan love helping out.”

Since 2007, the Children’s Food Trust has helped more than three million people learn to cook through its cooking network, which is the largest in the country.

The Trust’s CEO, Linda Cregan, said: “This year’s recipe, the Big Cookathon Cottage Pie, took its inspiration from a time when meals were eaten by families around a table at home, without the distraction of mobile phones and computer games.

“Taking part was a way to get back a bit of that precious family time.

“We’re so thankful that the O’Neill family wanted to join us in showing the nation how easy it is to cook and how much fun you can have in the kitchen.

“Learning to cook is an essential life skill and when children eat better, they do better.”

More than 22,300 people joined in the event this year, cooking the Trust’s Big Cookathon Cottage Pie, in kitchens everywhere, from schools and churches to hospitals and homes.

This year’s event, now in its eighth year, was sponsored by The Tesco Eat Happy Project.

To find out more about the Children’s Food Trust, visit