Students attend Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey
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Students attend Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey

Eight lucky pupils and two equally fortunate teachers from Hampshire Collegiate School attended the Commonwealth Service, a celebration of the Commonwealth, at Westminster Abbey on Monday. They were in excellent company with numerous members of the Royal family also in attendance along with the world’s leading ministers and politicians.

Her Majesty the Queen was accompanied by The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Henry of Wales and Ms Meghan Markle, The Duke of York, The Princess Royal, HRH Princess Alexandra, The Countess of Wessex and The Duchess of Gloucester.   

In his Bidding, the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall, said: “This year we look together towards a common future, in which all can flourish and become what we are in the care and keeping of almighty God. As we give thanks for our rich diversity and for our common humanity, let us pray together for peace and unity, and that we may offer one another mutual friendship and support.” It was a very moving service and we all reflected on the importance of connecting with the world community.   

The Commonwealth Secretary-General, Baroness Scotland of Asthal QC, led the Act of Affirmation to the Commonwealth. The Rt Hon Theresa May MP, Prime Minister, read Romans 12: 3-13. Reflections were read by Jaspreet Kaur, poet and teacher, and Dr Andrew Bastawrous, co-founder of Peek Vision. During the service, there were performances by Ngāti Rānana, the London Māori Choir, Liam Payne and the Portsmouth Gospel Choir.    

The flags of the 53 Commonwealth countries were processed through the Abbey at the start of the service and it was broadcast live on BBC One and the BBC World Service. 

Highlights included the excellent quality and variety of the music, singing the national anthem with the key person in the room, so to speak, and the speech by Dr Andrew Bastawrous, who discussed the work that he is carrying out to alleviate sight loss in poorer countries. We felt truly privileged to have been a part of this special service and it will certainly go down as a highlight of my teaching career.   

By Eirwen Driver, Head of English

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