Commonwealth Day is celebrated throughout the Commonwealth and is marked each year on the second Monday in March. This year, Commonwealth Day will be celebrated on Monday 13 March 2017, with the theme ‘A Peace-Building Commonwealth’.
The main celebration on St Helena will take place at the Cenotaph, Jamestown, in the form of a special service. The service will begin at 9.45am and will include the Commonwealth Day message from HM Queen Elizabeth II – which will be read by Her Excellency, Governor Lisa Phillips, and a message from the Commonwealth Secretary General – read by Guide Commissioner, Mrs Alice Phillips.
The service will include a reflective moment when Mrs May Young will recall life on St Helena in the post-world war days. There will also be the peace greeting, which will be followed by a symbolic release of white pigeons.
At 10am, the Commonwealth flag will be raised, as will be done in many places in the Commonwealth.
In the lead up to Commonwealth Day, Island schools have organised a poetry and essay competition based on the Peace-Building theme. The winning poem, along with an excerpt from the winning essay, will be read during the service. Special Commonwealth Day assemblies will also take place in the schools.
Assistant Chief Secretary (Support), Gillian Francis, said:
“Peace and security on St Helena is no doubt taken for granted. This year’s theme serves as a reminder that this is not the case for many people across the world. In uniting many nations, the Commonwealth advocates the importance of peace building to ensure progress and prosperity for everyone.”
In the UK, St Helena will also take part in ‘A Peace-Building Commonwealth’, where St Helenian student Louis Youde will be representing the Island at the Commonwealth Day events held in London.
The importance of celebrating the Commonwealth will continue next year when the UK hosts the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.
Minister for the Commonwealth and the United Nations, Rt Hon Baroness Anelay of St Johns DBE said:
“At a time of unprecedented global challenges, I believe that the Commonwealth matters more than ever. It is up to us to use our hosting of the Commonwealth Summit in 2018 to demonstrate the organisation’s relevance in seizing opportunities and tackling global challenges.”
7 March 2016