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By Ian Dipple Monday 10 March 2014 Updated: 11/03 17:33
A SPECIAL flag has been raised above Redditch Town Hall to celebrate the Commonwealth.
The flag is one of 500 being flown across the UK on Monday (March 10) as part of a widespread public expression of commitment to the Commonwealth and its values of tolerance, respect and opportunities for all its citizens around the world.
Councillors, members of Moons Moat based 37th Signal Regiment, the Royal British Legion and other dignitaries marked the occasion with a flag-raising ceremony on the steps of the Town Hall, which included a message from The Queen.
Redditch Mayor Wanda King also read out the Commonwealth Affirmation.
She said: "Joining together as members of one worldwide Commonwealth family, we raise this flag as a symbol of the ties of friendship we cherish, affirming our kingship and common purpose in building for the future towards shared goals of development and democracy, and commit ourselves afresh to working alongside one another in a spirit of respect and understanding, exploring new ideas and rising to fresh challenges, with all our sisters and brothers, wherever we may live, learn or work."
The Commonwealth evolved out of the British Empire and comprises 53 sovereign nations, two billion people of a variety of faiths and some of the richest and poorest people in the world.
Hewell Road resident Edmore Bennett moved to Redditch from Jamaica in 1955 and was one of the first members of the town's Commonwealth Citizens Association.
He told the Standard: "The way you feel about this country is the same way I feel about it, I was born under the Union flag, it's in my veins, it's in my blood."
Madge Tillsley MBE, who also moved with her husband to Redditch from Jamaica, said the Commonwealth was still relevant.
"I think without it we would lose our identity in the world," she said.
"As far as I'm concerned I'm a British Redditch Jamaican."
Malayan born Boon Yeng added: "Being part of the Commonwealth means in times of adversity there is strength and common goals."
The flag will also be flown above the Town Hall during the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow between July 23 and August 4.
A similar ceremony was held in Stratford involving Alcester mayor Mark Cargill and Alcester Court Leet High Bailiff Steven Brown.
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