This year’s Commonwealth Day celebrations in Birmingham will have particular significance in light of the city being selected as the host city for the XXII Commonwealth Games in 2022.
Commonwealth Day, which is on Monday 12 March, is an opportunity to promote understanding on global issues, international co-operation and the work of Commonwealth organisations, which aim to improve people’s lives.
The celebrations will begin at 9.30am with the Commonwealth Flag being raised in Victoria Square by the Lord Mayor, Councillor Anne Underwood. As first citizen, she will also be receiving the Commonwealth Games Federation flag on behalf of Birmingham at the handover ceremony at the conclusion of this year’s Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast on 15 April.
Following Monday’s Commonwealth Day flag-raising ceremony, the Lord Mayor will then welcome Birmingham Commonwealth Association chairman Keith Stokes-Smith ahead of a special citizenship ceremony at Birmingham Register Office, in Holliday Street, at 11am.
During the ceremony the Lord Mayor will present citizenship certificates to 18 of the city’s newest British citizens from seven different Commonwealth nations, who will also receive certificates from the Birmingham Commonwealth Association.
Among those preparing to receive British citizenship are the McAtears, a young family from Australia – where the Gold Coast 2018 games will be hosted next month – plus people from Bangladesh, India, Jamaica, Nigeria, Pakistan and South Africa.
The Lord Mayor said: “It will give me great pleasure to officially raise the Commonwealth Flag and meet some of Birmingham’s newest British citizens who have come from a number of different Commonwealth countries to live here.
“As the first citizen of Birmingham, a truly international city with more than 187 different nationalities represented, I am very much looking forward to marking this important occasion.”
On the same day, the Deputy Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Councillor Shafique Shah, will attend a service celebrating Commonwealth Day at Westminster Abbey, while later in the evening, the Lord Mayor will attend a dinner organised by the Birmingham Commonwealth Association at University College Birmingham, where the city’s relationship with its Commonwealth partners will be celebrated.
Also in attendance will be Cllr Peter Griffiths, Cabinet Member for Housing and Homes, who represented Wales in the 1970 Commonwealth Games, and Dr Beverly Lindsay OBE OD, Vice Lord Lieutenant of the West Midlands.
Keith Stokes-Smith, chairman of Birmingham Commonwealth Association, said: “Commonwealth Day is always the second Monday in March and is celebrated around all the 53 Commonwealth nations in various ways. It has become tradition for Birmingham Commonwealth Association to conclude the day with a celebratory dinner.
“This year, we are pleased to welcome the Lord Mayor of Bham, Councillor Anne Underwood; Cllr Peter Griffiths, who will tell us more about the city’s plans for the 2022 Commonwealth Games; Paul Faulkner CBE, chief executive of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, and and Dr Beverly Lindsay OBE, Vice Lord Lieutenant. It’s a sell-out event and one which we know will become more popular as 2022 approaches and the people of Birmingham learn more about the Commonwealth and, from a trade point of view, its great potential.”