Monday was Commonwealth Day.
That hasn’t meant much to me in the past but I’ll think of it differently from now on.
Ray used to work for the Royal Commonwealth Society and, when he had to leave because of his stroke, we were both made honorary life members.
Every so often I get an email about things that are happening but I’ve never taken a lot of notice,
Recently I had an email asking if I’d like to go in a ballot for tickets to attend the Commonwealth Day Observance at Westminster Abbey. Why not?
So I entered and forgot all about it.
Some time later I got a reply saying that I had a ticket so, on Monday, my sister in law Renei and I set off for the Abbey.
I set off from home to walk across the fields to the station. It’s a lovely walk but I hadn’t realised how wet the ground still was. Not something that would normally bother me at all, quite like a bit of mud, but I was going to be with The Queen, Prince Philip, Prince Charles, Camilla, Prince William and Kate! That said, they don’t seem to mind a bit of mud either!
Having gone round a small pond that doesn’t usually exist and slipped and slid in the ever deepening mud, I turned back ……. and headed towards the friendliest dog in the world who was desperate to jump up and play!
“No, not today, I’d love to play but …..” I fended him off and held on to him until his very nice owners (who could not call him back) grabbed him and put him on the lead.
I then walked the, much longer, but cleaner, route to the station to meet Renei.
Obligatory train selfie!
We arrived early and went to Covent Garden for a wander round, had some lunch and then headed off to the Abbey.
Then through security ……
….. and we were in!
I don’t think I’ve ever been in Westminster Abbey before, it is beautiful!
We were shown to our seats in Poets Corner. Each seat had two books on it, the large one being about the Commonwealth, the smaller was the order of service.
We put the books on a large shelf by the seats …… we later realised that was actually Geoffrey Chaucer’s tomb
As you can see, the Abbey was very full, two thousand people, half of whom were children. Appropriate as the theme was Young Commonwealth.
I hadn’t known what to expect, but I really enjoyed the whole service. The Queen’s speech was excellent, stressing how important it is that we talk, & listen, to each other.
The hymns were all old favourites from when I was at school, and I still knew all the words!
The acapella group, The Soil, were fantastic.
But the part I really enjoyed were the speeches, and one in particular.
P.J. Cole is a young guy from Sierra Leone who has already led an extraordinary life. From the minute he started speaking I was hanging on to every word!
I’m not even going to attempt to write about what he said, but I got his permission to include his speech here:
This really moved me. P. J. wasn’t over emotional, he spoke clearly, and was matter of fact which made his message even more clear.
I think it also affected me because it made me miss Deptford Green yet again. In my time there I talked with many kids who had had difficult lives. Girls who had escaped from Vietnam in small boats. A boy who’d experienced gunfire on the streets as he left school in Kingston. A boy who’d spent his life in war torn Somalia. And all the kids who experienced the danger of living in the gang areas of London. All of them talked about their experiences in the same matter of fact way.
Eventually the service came to an end, it didn’t seem to last very long.
As the royal family left Renei stood on her chair (the seats behind us were empty) and saw every member of the Royal Family 🙂
We then went to a drinks reception at the Royal Over-Seas League.
Imagine my delight when P. J. Cole arrived!
I ended up talking to him for over half an hour and I learned so much about him, his father, the work he’s doing and his hopes for his country. Google him!!!!
Renei and I also chatted to other members of ROSL and I’m hoping we’ll be able to attend more of their events in the future.
I also managed to find someone who remembered Ray from over 26 years ago which gave us something to talk about when I went home!
Oh, and I had 4 bottles of beer, my first alcohol since 6/12/14!!!
All too soon it came to an end and we went off to get something to eat before the train journey home.
It was a fantastic experience and I’m going to check out all my emails more carefully in future.