After all the pessimism coming out my little patch of South London over the past seven days, how fantastic to finish on a high. Sunday afternoon saw me suited and booted as I cycled the short distance to Clapham Trinity Church, and the Civic Ceremony for the lovely @mayoroflambeth.
The service was a celebration of the civic duty of Mr Mayor, as well as the opportunity to raise the profile of the various charities that he has supported over the past nine months of public office.
It takes something quite special to get me into a church these days. Having seen how Mr Mayor has represented the borough so proudly, an hour or so spent sitting in the SW4 pews was the least I could do.
I wasn’t alone in wanting to honour such fine civic duty. Mayoral representation from almost every other London borough had gathered in Clapham, to pay tribute the work of Mr Mayor in Lambeth.
I tweeted “What is the collective noun for a gathering of Mayors?” Three replies of “a chain” came back to me, just as I somehow managed to blag my way into the
church crèche robing chamber to mingle amongst all the fake mink fur.
Mr Mayor shook my hand (white gloves! *pristine* white gloves!) and very kindly agreed to my door-stopping request for a brief @audioboo.
We rightly touched upon the fine parallel work of @LamYouthMayor, an initiative that bodes well for democracy in Lambeth over the coming years. It is no coincidence that Lambeth’s Youth Mayor, Samueal Manley, has been such an equal success to his civic elder. Aiming high is infectious.
I took up my place in the pews, and by a strange twist of fate, was joined by the good Councillor Rachael Heywood, the Cabinet Member for Culture (leisure) and Communities, sitting right next to me.
Aye aye. Tempting, but now wasn’t the time.
Mr Mayor made his grand entrance with the Mayoral procession, and I tried to remember the words to some long lost hymns from Sunday school. Even for a non-believer, the service was rather uplifting. The emphasis was on charity, with speakers from all of the main organisations that Mr Mayor has campaigned for, being given the opportunity to speak.
Clapham Trinity Hospice, Clapham Youth Services and Lambeth Women’s Aid have all worked incredibly close with Mr Mayor throughout the past nine months. The main sermon reflected this, with the message of charity as a vehicle for change passed on.
Time for a *proper* tune and an uplifting solo performance from a fine young lady within Lambeth. This was followed by a reading from @cllrstevereed. It would have been interesting if the roles had been reversed, but I don’t think the occasion suited such humour.
With work commitments back at base beckoning, I slipped out of the back door, having unfortunately missed @CllrMarkBennett‘s reading. Our friends from the Lambeth Labour cabinet were singing Jerusalem, in hopefully an attempt to reclaim the Socialist anthem back from the playing fields of the public schools.
With Mr Mayor still having three months remaining of his year of civic duty, I can’t but help think that the incumbent chain rattler has something of a hard act to follow. @mayoroflambeth has been truly unique during his year in office.
It’s not just the use of social media to help spread his message that has impressed. This has been a genuinely inclusive period of office, and one that has greatly helped to raise the profile of the many charitable and campaigning groups around Lambeth.
Many thanks Mr Mayor. Good luck in his transition back to Councillor status. Here’s hoping that the civic optimism can continue in the cut and thrust of proper local politics.