Commonwealth DayCommonwealth soldiers, local dignitaries and Purbeck school students witnessed the raising of a flag to mark Commonwealth Day on Monday 14 March.

Along with more than 500 local authorities, charities and community groups throughout the United Kingdom, Purbeck District Council raised the flag to show commitment to the Commonwealth.

Councillor Wendy Meaden, vice chairman of Purbeck District Council was joined at the ceremony by Commonwealth soldiers from Zimbabwe, Fiji and Nigeria and their spouses; the mayor of Swanage; the deputy mayor of Lytchett Minster & Upton; district councillors; deputy house leader and students from the Purbeck School; Dorset Fire & Rescue Service; and district council staff.

The vice chairman and guests affirmed their support for the values shared by the Commonwealth’s 53 member countries.

Reading the Commonwealth Affirmation, Councillor Meaden said: “Joining together as members of one worldwide community, and valuing the personal dignity and worth of every citizen, we raise this flag as a symbol of the ties of kinship and affinity that we cherish.

“We draw inspiration from our diversity, and the opportunities for working together, as a rich source of wisdom and a powerful influence for good in the world.”

Councillor Meaden thanked those attending, especially the soldiers from around the Commonwealth, Dorset Fire & Rescue Service and pupils from Purbeck School. She concluded: “It is an honour and privilege to raise this flag today.”

Councillor Gary Suttle, leader of Purbeck District Council, read a message from Kamalesh Sharma, secretary-general of the Commonwealth, which said: ‘Our theme as we celebrate Commonwealth Day 2016 is “An Inclusive Commonwealth”. This celebrates the core belief and diversity of a Commonwealth of more than two billion people. Every one of them has something unique to offer.

‘These local and national flag-raising ceremonies bring greater understanding and appreciation of the values and principles that animate the Commonwealth Charter, to which the governments of all 53 Commonwealth countries subscribe, and to which each of us as Commonwealth citizens can recommit ourselves on Commonwealth Day.The Commonwealth Charter asserts that everyone is equal and deserves to be treated without discrimination, whether they are rich or poor, without regard to their race, age, gender, belief, or other identity.The Commonwealth seeks to build a better world by including and respecting everybody and the richness of their personalities.’

Over 650 other Commonwealth flags were raised in 38 Commonwealth countries.The initiative has caught the imagination of thousands of participants around the world, enabling people of all ages in their local communities to become involved and join with others associating themselves with widespread public expression of commitment to the Commonwealth, appreciation of the values it stands for, and opportunities offered to its citizens.

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