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Commonwealth Day Celebration at Westminister Abbey

On Monday 13 March, students from Bishop Stopford School joined 800 children and young people from across the UK at the Commonwealth Service in Westminister Abbey, in celebration of Commonwealth Day. Her Majesty the Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, attended, accompanied by TRH The Duke of Edinburgh, The Prince of Wales, The Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Henry of Wales, The Duke of York and The Earl of Wessex. High Commissioners, dignitaries from across the UK and around the Commonwealth, senior politicians and faith leaders were also present.

The service celebrated the 2017 Commonwealth theme of 'A Peace-building Commonwealth', reaffirming the Commonwealth Charter principle that: 'international peace and security, sustainable economic growth and development and the rule of law are essential to the progress and prosperity of all'. The aim of the Service was to celebrate the unity, diversity and linkages of the modern Commonwealth and to foster greater understanding of the Commonwealth's achievements and role.

Speakers at the Service included the Prime Minister of Malta and Commonwealth Chair-in-Office the Hon Dr Joseph Muscat MP and Cameroonian peace advocate Achaleke Christian Leke, a former victim of radicalisation and violence.  The Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC, led the Act of Affirmation to the Commonwealth.

Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, DBE and Ms Fadumo Olow, a young Muslim woman form the Youth Sport Trust, processed The Queen's Baton to the High Altar with Commonwealth athletes Anna Mears OAM and Kurt Fearnley OAM.

The audience enjoyed performances by Australian musicia, Cody Simpson, British spoken-word performer, George the Poet, and Canadian Soprano, Measha Brueggergosman. The event was broadcast live on BBC One and relayed live on BBC World Service.

Mrs Toward