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Britain at dinner time: Intimate photos lay bare the reality of modern families in 2017 - not the myth

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From caravans to couches, photos lift lid on households across the country

There's no one photo that captures the average family mealtime - because there's no such thing as an average mealtime.

In fact, there's no such thing as an average family! The truth is, family life can be colourful - a far cry from the old-fashioned ideal that's still portrayed in popular culture, in advertising, film and TV.

McCain, the UK's leading potato brand, has launched its latest campaign, We Are Family, to celebrate modern families - the reality, not the myth.

The We Are Family display is free at the National Portrait Gallery for two weeks from September 21, depicting images of family life at mealtimes. Open 10am to 9pm, Thursday to Friday; and 10am to 6pm, Saturday to Wednesday.

Or visit mccain.co.uk/familyportraits to find out more about the families taking part in the National Portrait Gallery display.

WALKER AND CAMPBELL FAMILY - OUTER HEBRIDES

Walker and Campbell Family

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From the original croft her husband inherited, Mary built their house from the ground up, and they have raised five children there.

There are no walls or gates on the island, nothing but wet ground to stop the children from roaming as far as they want.

CHADWICK FAMILY - DEVON

Chadwick Family

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Single dad Tom moved to Devon six years ago, yearning for a simpler life. He bought a caravan close to the beach.

“You wake up, you get breakfast. You go to the beach and learn to surf, then come home, clean up and think about dinner,” he smiles.

Recently separated, Tom teaches Roo and Peter how to make bread and they enjoy sunset walks.

Peter says: “I don’t believe in gendered roles for parenting. You can’t choose your family. They are given to you.”

PLUMMER AND HAMMOND FAMILY - KENT

Plummer and Hammond Family

Jim grew up in Ports- down Hill, overlooking Portsmouth, where he and his wife of 63 years, Joyce, walked as they courted.

“It is his wish that their ashes should, in time, be scattered over that hill,” says son Richard.

Joyce died three years ago and Jim now has dementia.

Every weekend, Richard or his brother do a 150- mile round- trip to look after him. Richard says: “He has helped form this family, and it means everything to us.”

CHRISTOPHER FAMILY – BIRMINGHAM

Christopher Family

“There isn’t a schedule for anything really in our home,” Denise says. “It’s usually a case of when it happens it happens, so be grateful.”

A single mum of four children ranging from 12 to 23, teaching assistant Denise says: “In the mornings, you have breakfast if you want it, which most of the time results in none of us having breakfast.”

She has taught her kids to be honest, open and supportive: “We stick together. We’re a unit of individuals.”

MCINTOSH FAMILY - OUTER HEBRIDES

McIntosh Family

While Christina works, Sebastian goes to his grandmother’s or friends, but they always eat breakfast together.

Christina says: “Family are the people who mean the most to you – there for you, on good days and bad.”

MKUNDI FAMILY - SHEFFIELD

Mkundi Family

Chishamiso grew up on a farm in Zimbabwe, before becoming an engineer, marrying and having two sons.

He helps run the local Oxfam shop, and supports other asylum seekers. His family is still in Zimbabwe.

“But being among other families helps me,” he says.

DURRANT FAMILY - DEVON

Durrant Family

After past marriages, Tom and Anna met through friends. “We just had a feeling we were meant to be together,” Tom says.

Their son Billy, eight, was born with Down’s and suffers life-threatening seizures. But little sister Mila, four, instinctively knows how he feels, what he wants and needs.

Billy’s wellbeing guides many decisions. Tom says: “Our family is about sacrifice, reward, and a sense of belonging.”

MAHROOF FAMILY - SHEFFIELD

Mahroof Family

Rashda Mahroof was born in Pakistan, and came to Sheffield when she was five She is one of four sisters – and is now mum to five girls.

Social worker Rashda gave up work to raise her children, but says: “Motherhood has been the making of me.”

NICHOLLS FAMILY - WEST MIDLANDS

Nicholls Family

Rebecca was 18 when she gave birth to Holly: “To become a mother at such a young age was a big shock for me. The pregnancy wasn’t planned, and I’d only just started to date Holly’s father.”

When she learned Holly had Down’s syndrome she says: “I felt this over-whelming feeling of protection towards her. I wanted to shelter her from the judgmental world out there.”

Rebecca and Holly live close to her parents, Carol and Stuart, in Sedgley near Birmingham, and they play a big part in her life.

She says: “There’s a lot of love between us. Holly’s enriched my life.”

MORRISON FAMILY - OUTER HEBRIDES

Morrison Family

Although nurse Iain works nights at the hospital, his family are crofters, living off the land.

The children understand their heritage. “We are here to nurture Niall and Amelia, to help them grow into the next generation,” Kate says.

The We Are Family display is free at the National Portrait Gallery for two weeks from September 21, depicting images of family life at mealtimes. Open 10am to 9pm, ursday to Friday; and 10am to 6am, Saturday to Wednesday. Or visit mccain.co.uk/familyportraits to find out more about the families taking part in the National Portrait Gallery display.

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