Commonwealth Day Observance 2013

Duke of Edinburgh celebrates Commonwealth Day at Westminster Abbey
 
On Monday 11th March, His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh marked Commonwealth Day in Westminster Abbey. The Observance launched this year’s Commonwealth theme ‘Opportunity through Enterprise’.
 
Her Majesty The Queen’s traditional Commonwealth Day message was played in the Abbey, in which The Queen celebrated the 2013 Commonwealth theme, ‘Opportunity through Enterprise’:
 
We are all born with the desire to learn, to explore, to try new things…  Yet it still takes courage to launch into the unknown.  Ambition and curiosity open new avenues of opportunity.
 
That is what lies at the heart of our Commonwealth approach: individuals and communities finding ways to strive together to create a better future that is beneficial for all.
 
Our shared values of peace, democracy, development, justice and human rights – which are found in our new ‘Commonwealth Charter’ – mean that we place special emphasis on including everyone in this goal, especially those who are vulnerable.
 
Award-winning soul singer Beverley Knight, indie-rock favourites The Noisettes and dance group Living The Dream performed at the Observance, Britain’s largest annual inter-faith gathering. Beverley sang a soulful cover of Sam Cook’s ‘A Change is Gonna Come’, to 2,000 guests, which included Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma, The Rt Hon The Lord Howell of Guilford and Commonwealth High Commissioners.
 
Entrepreneur and philanthropist Sir Richard Branson spoke, highlighting the role the Commonwealth has played in the expansion of many Virgin companies, he said: “The Commonwealth is all about creating opportunities to spread good ideas across geographical barriers, nurturing talent and encouraging collaboration. It thrives through unity, but also encourages dynamism and diversity.”
 
Founding President and Executive Director of Avaaz, Ricken Patel also spoke and children’s poet, John Agard, read a poem specially commissioned for the event. The last lines of which, reminded listeners that opportunity is created through hard work and enterprise.
           
Each of the 1,000 students present in the Abbey – including the young posy giver – won their tickets because of their involvement in enterprise, whether that was through this year’s Commonwealth Essay Competition which focuses on enterprise or through projects such as Young Enterprise or the ‘Ladder for London’ apprenticeship campaign.
 
Commonwealth Day also marks the launch of the Commonwealth School Enterprise Challenge; a business competition for young people who want to make a difference in the world. The attending schools and thousands of their peers across the Commonwealth will be invited to take part.
 
Commonwealth Week additionally sees the official launch of the Commonwealth Charter; a single document outlining the sixteen core values of the association, which the leaders of the Commonwealth have committed to upholding.

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