Two undergraduates from the Isle of Man chosen to attend the CPA Headquarters Secretariat’s Observance of Commonwealth Day in London on Monday March 10th have hailed the occasion ‘a great experience’.
Sara-Jayne Dodge, 20, from Douglas and Charlie Shimmins, 18, from Glen Vine, joined around 1000 other young people at the celebrations, which were held in the presence of The Queen, as head of the Commonwealth, after they were selected by the executive committee of the Isle of Man branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA).
The proceedings provided opportunities for the pair to witness discussions on the Commonwealth and the CPA by UK and visiting parliamentarians, attend the Observance Day service in Westminster Abbey then a reception hosted by the Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma at Marlborough House, headquarters of the Commonwealth Secretariat.
Highlights of the Observance Day proceedings in Westminster Abbey included speeches from Lord Coe and Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson and a keynote address by campaigner Malala Yousafzai.
Ms Dodge said: ‘The day was an amazing experience that exceeded my already high expectations. I cannot thank the Isle of Man enough for giving me the chance to participate and would definitely encourage those future potential participants to attend this event.’
Mr Shimmins said: ‘Debating the issues facing the Commonwealth today with fellow students from across the world was extremely interesting. The opportunity to visit iconic buildings like the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey and hear speeches by the Queen, Sebastian Coe and Malala Yousafzai among others was a great experience. The day confirmed the continued importance of the Commonwealth for the Isle of Man and the world as a whole and I benefited greatly from attending.’
CPA Isle of Man branch chairman Juan Watterson MHK said: ‘The theme for this year’s celebrations is “Team Commonwealth” and it is fair to say that today the Commonwealth is, indeed, a remarkable team, with a membership that while diverse, is united in its shared values and common goals. Observance Day provides an opportunity to celebrate not only that unity and diversity but also teamwork, central to a modern Commonwealth. I am delighted that Sara and Charlie took full advantage of the day’s proceedings and were able to experience first-hand the powerful force for good that is the Commonwealth in the 21st century.’