On Monday 12th March, Commonwealth Day was celebrated across the 53 nations that make up the Commonwealth. Birmingham was no exception; the city saw an enthusiastic display of events and ceremonies throughout the day including a flag raising ceremony at the Council House in Victoria Square at 10am. The Deputy Lieutenant Dr Nasir Awan MBE DL read the Queen’s message followed by the Commonwealth Affirmation read by the Lord Mayor and the flag was raised. The Jamaican Consul Wade Lyn, former Chief Executive Stella Manzie, Councillor Bridget Jones and the High commissioners from Pakistan and India also participated in the event.
Following this, a Citizenship Ceremony took place at the Register Office. This special ceremony saw speeches given by the Lord Mayor and the Vice-Lord Lieutenant for The West Midlands Dr Beverly Lindsay OBE OD who respectively read the Commonwealth Affirmation and the Queen’s message. These were followed by short speeches from several members of the Birmingham Commonwealth Association (BCA): Wade Lyn, Jamaican Consul; Quaye Botchway, President of Ghana Union Midlands, Marcia Lewinson, Chief Executive at W.A.I.T.S.; and, Nura Ali, Executive Director at Allies Network.
The 17 participants in the ceremony were from Commonwealth countries: India, Nigeria, Jamaica, Bangladesh, South Africa, Pakistan and Australia. They all received two certificates (Certificate of British citizenship and the BCA’s Certificate of British Citizenship) and took pictures with the special guests followed by a small lunch were they had the opportunity to meet each other.
In the evening, there was a dinner held at University College of Birmingham: BCA Commonwealth Day Dinner and networking event to celebrate Birmingham hosting CW Games 2022. It was attended by the Lord Mayor, the Vice Lord Lieutenant Beverly Lindsay OBE, Councillor Peter Griffiths, Councillor Ken Wood, Councillor Yvonne Mosquito, BCA members and other strategic partners like BCU. Attendees dressed in their best lounge suits took advantage of this opportunity to join together in celebration of common bonds and shared values.
Speeches included the Chair/President of the BCA, Keith Stokes-Smith, who highlighted the work carried out by the association and its members in the past few years. Nura Ali and Marcia Lewinson representing Allies Network and W.A.I.T.S., both supported by BCA received a cheque for money raised on their behalf.
Paul Faulkner spoke on the potential of the Commonwealth and how the BCA and the Greater Birmingham Commonwealth Chamber of Commerce (GBCCC) are going to work together in the future. Finally, Councillor Peter Griffiths focused on the importance of the Commonwealth for the city especially now that the next Commonwealth Games will be hosted by the city in 2022.
All in all, it was a successful day despite the rainy weather, a day preceding this year’s 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in London.