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Flag ceremony underlines Commonwealth ties

A visitor from the other side of the world joined in the Commonwealth Day ceremonies in March on Monday (March 9), underlining the ties that bind the global organisation together.

Commonwealth flag day 2015

Garry Ewart, from Whittlesea in Australia, was among about 35 people who gathered at Fenland Hall for the raising of the Commonwealth flag. Later he was invited to read a poem at a commemorative act marking the centenary of the First World War.

The flag-raising ceremony included a greeting from the Queen, read by Freddie Grounds MBE, Deputy Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire. That was followed by readings of a message from Kamalesh Sharma, the Commonwealth's secretary general, and the Commonwealth Affirmation.

The affirmation, delivered by Fenland District Council chairman  Councillor Ken Mayor,  said the raising of the flag was "a symbol of the ties of kinship and affinity that we cherish".

That dedication to common traditions and shared values was echoed in the secretary general's message, read in tandem by Fenland District Council's leader, Councillor John Clark, and Councillor Michelle Tanfield, the council's Cabinet member responsible for young people.

"Fly a Flag for the Commonwealth" is an annual event, inaugurated last year as a way of demonstrating local communities' commitment to the organisation's principles of tolerance, understanding and respect for all people.

Those attending the flag-raising ceremony included the mayors of Wisbech and Whittlesey and the deputy mayor of March.

Afterwards guests gathered in the council chamber for the First World War commemoration. Four candles were extinguished to represent "the feeling of darkness that came over Europe 100 years ago".

Cllr Mayor then relit one "as a reminder not only of the sacrifices made during the conflicts of the past 100 years but also as a symbol of hope that we will work towards understanding between all people".

He also read the traditional Remembrance exhortation - "They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old..." - and the Kohima Epitaph - "When you go home, tell them of us and say/ For their tomorrow, we gave our today".

The ceremony concluded with Mr Ewart's reading of Wilfred Owen's famous poem, "Dulce et Decorum Est".

Article added March 10, 2015