Felixstowe · Media Article · Sermon

A Table for All – Making the Mayor of Felixstowe

A Table for All

Address before the Making of Councillor Seamus Bennett as Mayor

Felixstowe Town Council – Wednesday 17 May 2023

God give you peace my sisters and brothers.

It was in 1964 that Flanders and Swann, as always planting their tongues deeply in their cheeks and without a single politically correct funny bone in their bodies, wrote their ‘Song of Patriotic Prejudice.’ 

It begins with the typically English understatement:

The English, the English, the English are best
I wouldn’t give tuppence for all of the rest!

…after which they go on to complain about the other nations of the United Kingdom.

The rottenest bits of these islands of ours
We’ve left in the hands of three unfriendly powers
Examine the Irishman, Welshman or Scot
You’ll find he’s a stinker, as likely as not

As they say in the prelude to the piece, ‘All the others have songs saying how marvellous they are and making rude remarks about the English in their own languages. What English songs have we got? …Jerusalem!’

Their complaint bears some looking in to.  

Should we not be proud to be English and show off our colours?  What is wrong with belting out a song for our nation, our team, our party? 

Vicky Pollard may well respond to those words with her famous one liner of ‘Yeah, but no, but yeah, but.’ 

Shouting the odds for my team on the sports field may be all very well but you see it doesn’t always work in the public square.

In preparing to renew their promise in the name of King Charles III Felixstowe Air Cadets looked at the top ten National Anthems as chosen by Rugby fans.  ‘God Save the King’, sung by the English Rugby team, was roundly beaten into fourth place by “La Marseillaise’,  ‘Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau’, and ‘Flower of Scotland’.  

The Air Cadets noticed that all of the anthems, with the exception of ‘God Save the King’ included the name of the nation it was sung for.  We talked about Patriotism and Nationalism – Air Cadets promise to serve God and King, Country and Flag – and came to the conclusion that having a National Anthem that doesn’t name your nation is not that bad an idea after all.  Our King is monarch not only of the United Kingdom but of 14 other realms as well.  This is reflected in one of the verses of the National Anthem runs

Not in this land alone, 
But be God’s mercies known, 
From shore to shore! 
Lord make the nations see, 
That men should brothers be, 
And form one family, 
The wide world o’er.

As our discussion continued the cadets talked about their own ancestry and nationality.  Knowing that Felixstowe is the most ethnically diverse community in Suffolk it came as no surprise to me than amongst a class of 9 cadets they shared between them and their parents more than a dozen nationalities.  Our Cadets need a National Anthem that proudly proclaims that we are;

one family, the wide world o’er’.

And so does our Town of Felixstowe.

Our Town, with all the cosmopolitan diversity that is the distinctive character of all port towns, is a place of many nations, many languages, many opinions. Something which we see manifested around this very council table.  

Gathered here are many experiences, many new perspectives, many opinions, many aspirations and a whole host of rosettes of different colours.  

But as I look at each of you precious people, be you seasoned old lag or fresh-faced newbie, I see people with one purpose and of one mind and heart.  Each of you is here to give yourself away.  Thank you!

Yes, in the years ahead there will be much discussion about which way to slice a civic cake that will always be too small to meet the needs of everyone.

Yes, there will be disagreements amongst you as to the best way to serve our Town.

Yes, there may even come times when you may question each other’s motives.

How are we to guard against this?  How are we to ensure that our discussions and decisions are suffused with light rather than damaged and destroyed by too much heat?

I have a request for you my friends.  Over the past weeks and months part of the daily dress of many here has been a rosette of a particular colour.  Now, without betraying any of the principles either of us professes, may I ask that rosettes be put aside and the first and most important thing you wear each day is our Town badge?  

Could I go one step further please?  What would it take for each Councillor, newly elected or returned to serve again, to take one of our Town pin badges and give it to someone with whom they disagree yet has the good of our Town at heart?

After all the table around which you sit is not your table.

The table around which you sit is not for you to eat at.

The table around which you sit is for those who voted for you.

The table around which you sit is for those who didn’t vote for you yet whom you still represent.

The table around which you sit is for those who for whatever reason  didn’t cast their vote.

The table around which you sit is for the whole of Felixstowe.

The table around which you sit is not a table for some but a table for all.

Regardless of our personal politics everyone has come here to serve.  And such service is best done together as we build a table for all.

Every one of you has my support, my encouragement, and you are in my daily prayers. 

If I may I would like to close with a blessing for you and for our Town.

A Blessing for Felixstowe

May God the Father, 

who guided St Felix to the shores of our Town.

Bless you.

May God the Son, 

whose Gospel St Felix proclaimed amongst us.

Bless you.

May God the Holy Spirit, 

who called St Felix to teach and care for our children.

Bless you.

And the blessing of God the Father, 

God the Son and God the Holy Spirit 

be poured out upon this Town of Felixstowe and all her people.

This day, and every day.   

Amen. (Andrew Dotchin)


The new Mayor of Felixstowe is Councillor Seamus Bennett.  

The Deputy Mayor is 

Councillor Mike Deacon

please be generous in your support of them.

Find out more about the work of Felixstowe Town Council and the Mayor’s Charities  here.

Follow them on Twitter @felixstoweTC

And on Facebook here.

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