On Monday 9 March, students from Archbishop Holgate’s travelled to London to join 700 children and young people from across the UK in celebration of Commonwealth Day at Westminster Abbey as part of a congregation of 3,000 people.
The event is the largest annual multi-faith Service in the UK and was attended by Her Majesty The Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, senior members of the Royal Family, The Prime Minister, Commonwealth Heads of State and specially invited guests. The event attracted the attention of the worlds media as it was the last official engagement by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
Richard Nihill, the school’s chaplain said: “The students and I were very excited about being given this wonderful opportunity. We had an amazing day in London, meeting people from across the Commonwealth and seeing members of the Royal Family at this unique event. It surpassed all our expectations and was unforgettable.”
Before the service, the group had a guided tour of the Renaissance paintings of the National Gallery and saw some of London’s most famous sights.
The Service, broadcast live on the BBC, celebrates the unity and diversity of the modern Commonwealth and aims to foster a greater understanding of the Commonwealth’s role and achievements. This year the theme was ‘Delivering a Common Future’, highlighting how the 54 member countries in the Commonwealth family are ‘innovating, connecting and transforming’ to help achieve some of its biggest goals like protecting natural resources and boosting trade.
Attendees at the service were treated to performances from West-End star Alexandra Burke, and award-winning singer-songwriter, Craig David. Also participating were spoken word poet Suli Breaks, One-Drum African drummers, the Melodians Steel Orchestra and the Choir of Westminster Abbey. The principal reflection was given by the boxer Anthony Joshua OBE.
School governor, Dr Samantha Pugh said: “It was a privilege to be able to join students for our trip down to London for the Commonwealth Service. They were a real credit to the school. The service was a really special occasion – it was incredible to see so many of the royal family in one place, and I was particularly inspired by Anthony Joshua’s speech.”
School Captain Amelia Barber said: “To represent Archbishop’s at such a prestigious event was a real privilege with the presence of political figures and the royals, which was the real cherry on top of the cake. During the service, my personal favourite moment was the contribution by the poet Suli Break, who focused on the aspect of Ideas. His ability to manipulate words in such a causal yet angelic way was truly enlightening and captivating.”
Matt Dalgleish said: “My favourite part of the day was the actual service in Westminster Abbey. The atmosphere at this main event was a truly memorable experience. Seeing the Queen and the Royal Family was also cool and it is definitely a once in a lifetime experience. It was really exciting to see all the representatives other Commonwealth countries and their ambassadors.”
Commonwealth Day is marked annually on the second Monday in March. It is a celebration of the Commonwealth’s rich diversity and an opportunity to promote understanding on global issues, international cooperation and the work of Commonwealth civil society organisations.