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Local People

Two-Faced or Single-Minded?



An insight into the past year of local Reverend Andrew Dotchin.

In Greek mythology the god Janus, after whom we name the month January, has two faces. One looks backwards to the past and the other looks forwards to the future.  As the year turns it is often helpful to be a little like Janus and do the same.

It’s now just over four years since we moved to Felixstowe, I’ve been trying to live here since I was 18! I am glad that my hopes for life in Felixstowe have been proven correct.

Firstly, and above all else, Felixstowe is a generous place. Throughout the last year I have seen people dip their hands into their pockets to help others. Some of the causes that are helped are local and some far away but all of them are well supported by people of good heart.  

Look at a few of the events that have enriched our community and at the same time raised funds for others. The Rotary fun run, The Carnival, The Mayor’s Charity Events, The Christmas Day Dip, and The Rudolph Run and many more. The last raised nearly £8000 just by itself.  

And all this doesn’t even cover the events organised by individuals. I remember last January being slightly more chilly after the Rainbow Group at Level Two shaved my beard, my moustache, and my head to raise to help Langer Primary children go on outings. And where would so many of the hard-pressed of our town be without the support of the pop-up shops run by the BASIC Life Charity and their volunteers, the meals provided by the Salvation Army, and the friendship offered through Hope Trust and the Felixstowe Dementia Action Alliance?

Felixstowe is also, as befits a maritime town, a welcoming place.  According to the census we are one of the most ethnically diverse communities in Suffolk.  Look at the business along our High Streets and see how many are run by hard working people who were not born here yet have made Felixstowe their home. Due to the pressures of the economy, seafarers do not have as much shore time as previously but, for the vast majority, a friendly welcome is offered.  On Easter Day it was a pleasure to have six Filipino seafarers join us towards the end of the service, stay with us for fellowship, and each leave with a woollen cap knitted by members of the Mothers’ Union. The only glitch was that I stumbled over my words trying to pronounce a blessing in Tagalog!

Talking about the Port. It is easy to forget that it handles over 40% of national imports and nearly 10% of Suffolk is in work because of the Port. So, it was a great fillip for the Port and our town to be chosen as the place where MSC Isabella, the newest of the largest container ships in the MSC fleet, was blessed and named here.

In general Felixstowe is also a happy community. People are determined to look on the bright side of life. Perhaps it’s the sea air, the well-cared for gardens, the Promenade which caters for all sorts and types of people along its length that does this. But even at the end of the hardest days, and 2019 brought too many of them, I often breathe out a happy sigh and in my prayers thank God for being allowed to work and serve here.  

This zeitgeist spreads to others as well.  Here are a few of them. The Felixstowe Finds beach pebble group, Felixstowe Litter-Pickers, Felixstowe Community Garden, all the establishments such as Cuppa and Crafty Coffee who have opened their doors for events like ‘Meet Up Mondays’ and Timebank. Add to this the latest initiative from Darren Aitchison and others to provide ‘Hanging Coffee’ for those who are feeling the pinch. These newer groups follow the well-trodden steps of many other voluntary organisations across our community.

All is looking rosy for 2020 then? Yes, but we need to be on the guard against the cynicism that often surrounds charitable works.  This too easily raises its head on the many Social Media platforms that are available today. As with any other ‘news’ source it’s not the medium that can be the challenge but the content. Too easily, like Janus, we can turn our intention of valuing the past so that we can shape the future, a single-mindedness, into a carping and criticism of the hard work of others and become a little bit two-faced.  We seem to be becoming a nation that rewards hard work for others with cries of ‘why didn’t you help me as well?’ Too often this has become the norm for our public and political life as well.

In the Church of England, which is well-versed at having arguments, we struggle with how we are to have ‘Good Disagreement’ – which sounds like an oxymoron! How do we continue to live and work alongside those who have different views to ourselves without descending into the demonising of each other? We have not yet got to the answer, though we are hoping to have some idea of a good way forward later this year. The Archbishop has asked two things of us. The first is simply that we choose to be kind in all our relationships but especially with those with whom we disagree. It costs nothing and will enable deeper conversations. The second is that we all sign up to the Church of England digital charter. It is not onerous and simply asks that we are courteous to each other.  

That reminds me of another thing Felixstowe is good at, being courteous. In a previous life it was all about greeting people in the street, gentlemen doffing hats, and helping old ladies across the street. In a cyber age it takes a little more effort, but costs just as little and will bring great reward.  

In 2020 let’s make Felixstowe a generous and welcoming, happy and courteous community that will bring a smile to the face of all who live here and all who visit.

Photo captions

Blessing of a Rib – Fred Olsen donates their 5th Lifeboat to RNLI.

Local People

A Family of Litter-Pickers



This lovely Felixstowe lady, Nina Danells, tells us how she started litter-picking and why her family loved to get involved too...

Myself, hubby to be Gav and son Tobe’s are all outdoors people. We love to camp and taking walks in our beautiful countryside. Taking good care of it anyway we can is a big thing for us. Whether it’s simply recycling at home or reusing items so not to buy again or using plastic free products to help the environment. We heard about Litter-Free Felixstowe from fellow committee member Sue Lewis, of 356 Felixstowe Air Cadets. Sue told us that she had joined up and while talking with Sue she explained that because my son, Tobes, is a cadet at 356 Air Cadets and currently doing his Duke of Edinburgh Award with them that the litter pick would also go towards the volunteer part of it. So for my son there was a double reason to do the litter pick, but for myself and Gav it would be another excuse for a family walk in our local area and the bonus of being able to help clean it up a little. 

We went to Trimley foreshore and within 25 minutes we had collected over 6kg of rubbish! This included anything from disposal BBQ’s, glass bottles, toilet rolls, underwear and even needles. 

There were two areas where it was clear it had become somewhat a playground and the fun thing to do is to stand at the top of the foreshore cliff and throw glass bottles down onto the stones to smash. I made sure I took pictures of this location so to warn others and dog walkers like ourselves to be mindful. 

Being part of this Litter-Free Felixstowe group is wonderful and I would encourage anyone young or old to join in, as it really has brought the community together and is hopefully making people stop and think before dropping their litter as the group has become more public. 

While we were on the foreshore we received quite a few positive comments from passers-by such as “thanks for doing this”. So already we hope these people are talking about it and pass it on. The way our family sees it, is wherever you go if you bring it with you then you take it home with you too. It really is that simple.  

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Local People

Joan’s Blog: 16th July 2020, Walk 75 with Wynnie



Today was the day of the walk. Joan is an incredible 101-year-old Felixstowe legend who did her bit as an NHS worker. Today, 102-year-old Wynnie, also from Felixstowe, joined Joan in her 75th walk! The atmosphere was amazing. So many cheerful, excited faces to see Joan and Wynnie go around Allenby park from 2pm this afternoon. Covered by the press, radio stations and more, the wind blew gently – a nice, calming breeze. We all take photos with the bunting at the entrance of the park. Joan and Wynnie began to go around the park. Joan in front walking and Wynnie behind. We all walked with Joan and Wynnie, intrigued, asking questions and snapping photographs of this amazing event. So many supporters and such positive energy – everyone was so lovely. It’s inspiring seeing how such an event can bring everyone together and how keen people are to raise money.

Today was a huge success and well done to Joan and Wynnie – absolute stars! ⭐ We hope this inspires many more to do this too as it’s a fantastic way to raise money for such phenomenal causes. And now for Joan’s daughter, Diane, to share her daily poem…

Add a Joan to a Wynnie

And the answer’s 2-0-3.

In ten weeks more,

The answer’s 2-0-4.

Oh dear, what can the matter be?

Two ‘over-one-hundreds’ got a bit chattery.

Rob, radio presenter, was being quite flattery,

They didn’t notice him there!

What an honour to have 102-year-old, Wynnie Dunger join Joan on her walk, and the media and news reporters she attracted. Thank you to Rob Dunger for his support, and Mayor, Mark Jepson too. Thank you to everyone who has donated as a result of today’s media coverage.

With love, Diane.

To help Joan fundraise for the NHS, click here: 

*Article written by the lovely Emily Cheeseman.

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Local People

Joan’s Blog: 14th July 2020, Walk 73



By now, many of you would have heard of this incredible 101 year old local legend, Joan. Joan did her bit as an NHS worker, first in Hillingdon Hospital in the 1950s, then in Felixstowe General Hospital as an auxiliary nurse in the outpatient department from 1964 until her retirement in 1978. Forty-two years after leaving Felixstowe General Hospital, Joan walks around Allenby Park to raise money for them. Her goal is to make 102 laps before her upcoming 102nd birthday! She remembers going there to retrieve patients who had gone to sit in the cool and calm of the park, and now she is on duty again. This time there are no patients to gather, just birds singing, children playing, dog walkers with their beasties, picnickers relaxing on the grass, footballers, and friendly neighbours too. Every day Joan’s daughter will be giving us a little update. This one includes our lovely Emily from The Felixstowe Magazine who went about to interview Joan and Diane. Here’s the blog and soon to follow will be the lovely Joan and Diane in their filmed interview…

Rain in the night.

Rose petals lose their grip,


Strewn like wet confetti memories of a yesterday’s wedding.

Tiny clods clinging.

Joan’s wheels push forwards through park histories, never washed away.

Park friends,

Park children,

Park unknowns,

Long buried.

Their ghost voices rise to urge the more than one hundred heroes on, on, on.

Keep going Joan.

Keep going all.

Thank you to everyone who has donated and supported Joan. THANK YOU. Thank you to Colouring Heroes for their posters and good wishes to Joan.

With love,

Diane (Joan’s daughter)

To help Joan fundraise for the NHS, click here: 

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