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WNAT pupils join royals on Commonwealth Day

Representatives from a West Norfolk Academies Trust school joined members of the Royal Family and dignitaries from around the world to celebrate Commonwealth Day on Monday 11 March.

Eight students from Marshland High School attended the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey, which first took place in 1972, and marked the start of a week-long series of events across the globe to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the organisation.

The Queen and the Prince of Wales were among the members of the Royal Family present at the service, along with representatives from the 54 Commonwealth member states, which span Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe and the Pacific, with a combined population of almost 2.4 billion people.

The Year 9 and 10 students, who included the school’s Head Girl and Boy, were accompanied by Head Teacher Craig Jansen and Lydia Beatty, Head of PSHE (Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education) at Marshland, which is part of the West Norfolk Academies Trust.

“We were sitting near the entrance, so saw all the Royal Family arrive,” said Ms Beatty. “We also saw musical acts from around the Commonwealth and heard speeches from multi faith leaders.”

“We saw Ghetto Kids, who are a dance group from Uganda trying to help deprived communities, Calum Scott (England) and Jacob Portelli (Malta) performing ‘Lighthouse’, and Isabella Moore and Benson Wilson (New Zealand-born Samoans) performing ‘Tofa Mai Feleni,” she continued.

“We saw a recorded address from The King delivering his Commonwealth Message, then a message from the Dean of Westminster, who talked about it being the 75th year as part of the Commonwealth of Nations, and talked about the values those nations share of mutual respect and shared dignity.”

Other speakers on this year’s theme of resilience included Earthshot Prize winner Notpla and Sir Ben Okri OBE, who read a commemorative poem that had been specially commissioned for the occasion.

“This was a great opportunity to reflect on the British Values we all share,” added Miss Beatty. “It was a fantastic day to celebrate the diversity we have as part of the Commonwealth, and see representatives of all the Commonwealth countries.

“Some of the pupils said it was a day they’ll never forget.”