Children join King Charles and Prince William to enjoy Commonwealth Day celebration at Westminster Abbey
Pupils from the Peterlee school were invited to attend the event, which took place last week, after 27 students won awards in the Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition.
They travelled to London to join the King and receive their framed certificates.
Pupils also took in the sights of the capital and enjoyed an unexpected meeting with former spice girl Geri Halliwell who was also attending the celebratory ceremony and posted a photograph on Instagram of herself with the pupils.
Lucy Crinson, 13, said: “My favourite part of the day was the service at Westminster Abbey, especially seeing the different dance styles as I’m a dancer too. The Abbey was beautiful inside. It’s a day I will never forget.”
Paranyaa Jeyanathan, 12, added: “My favourite part was walking through London and seeing the sights. I loved seeing Big Ben and hearing all the facts about it.”
The pupils entered the “oldest international writing competition for schools” last June (2022) before the death of Queen Elizabeth II. They had to produce a piece of writing around “exploring the positive impact that can be achieved through dedication and selfless commitment to our Commonwealth”.
The entries were coordinated by English teacher Lucy Morris who said: “The pupils wrote wonderful essays about inspirational leaders and people in their lives. It was an incredible achievement which was recognised by an invitation to attend the Commonwealth Day Service.
“We had a fantastic time with some pupils visiting London for the first time. The pupils commented on how surreal it was to see the King, Prince William and Princess of Wales.”
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Organised by the Royal Commonwealth Society, the service is the world’s premier, public event to celebrate the Commonwealth of Nations and provides an opportunity to focus attention on the voluntary association of 56 countries and their commitment to promoting democracy, human rights, rule of law and equality.
The ceremony, which was broadcast on BBC One and BBC World Service, included performances from groups from all over the Commonwealth including a ballet group from Rwanda and a choir from Cyprus.