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'Guardians of a precious flame'

Published Friday 20th of March 2015 10:07:52 AM

Students from Cobham joined an array of illustrious guests, including the Royal Family, Nobel Peace Prize winners and politicians, at Westminster Abbey on Monday 9th March.

The eight students from ACS Cobham International School were among nearly 1,000 young people from across the UK the Abbey for the Commonwealth Day Observance, Britain's largest annual inter-faith gathering.

This year's Observance celebrated the 2015 Commonwealth theme 'A Young Commonwealth', recognising the capacity, positive contribution and potential of young people.

As the leader of the multinational organisation for over 60 years, the Queen was joined at the Commonwealth Day service by The Duke of Edinburgh, The Prince of Wales, The Duchess of Cornwall and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

The Queen praised Commonwealth members in her message to the congregation, describing them as 'guardians of a precious flame'.

Speakers at the service included international child rights' activist and 2014 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Kailash Satyarthi; Queen's Young Leader and community mobiliser, PJ Cole; and Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury MP, the first female Speaker of the Parliament of Bangladesh.

The multi award-winning South African acappella group, The Soil performed, alongside Indian poet, Sharanya Manivannan, who delighted the audience with a reading of her new poem commissioned for Commonwealth Day.

ACS Cobham grade 4 student, Annabelle Artist, who attended the celebration, commented:

'I really enjoyed the day because we had the opportunity to learn about other people, what they do and how they are proud of their achievements. It was inspiring that the Queen was there. In her speech, she highlighted that whilst the Commonwealth countries are diverse, we are actually all the same."

Students from ACS Cobham were invited to attend the day's prestigious services at the Abbey because of the school's involvement in Commonwealth projects, such as the ACS Namibia Project. This is a student-led initiative that has been supporting schools in Namibia for over 10 years, building a lasting partnership and visiting for four weeks each summer.

Fran Bidwell, Special Programmes Coordinator at ACS Cobham, organised the day and commented on why it was such a special event:

'As an international school, celebrating cultural diversity and the global community is part of what we do instinctively. There were so many inspiring speakers on the day, all adding to the special atmosphere of joining with people from around the world to share a common bond.'
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