Members and friends of the RCS ACT Branch celebrated Commonwealth Day this year with a variety of events starting with the Multi-Faith Celebration in the spirit of the Commonwealth theme for 2017, A Commonwealth for Peace, followed by our annual Commonwealth Dinner and ending in a cricket match.
The Multi-Faith celebration at the Centre for Christianity and Culture in Barton on Commonwealth Day began with the tolling of the great bell in the Centre’s forecourt, once for each of the Commonwealth’s current 52 member countries. As guests took their places, unaccompanied singing from a Pacific Islands choir filled the hall. A procession of honoured guests and participants followed, led by Lieut. General John Sanderson, former Governor of Western Australia and Deputy Chair of the Centre. Then there were readings of three messages to mark the day, the first from HM The Queen, as Head of the Commonwealth, from the Prime Minister, the Hon. Malcolm Turnbull and from HE General the Hon. Sir Peter Cosgrove, Governor General of Australia, our RCS ACT Branch Patron.
Following an address by General Sanderson on the theme A Commonwealth for Peace following by a performance of Irish dancing, a joint statement was made on behalf of ACT Faith Communities, with parts read by Mr Dean Sahu Khan, the Venerable Tempa Bejanke, Deacon John Lim and Mrs Deepali Jain.
As the celebration drew to a close, the Woden Valley Youth Choir sang, a Punjabi Dance group performed on stage, the National Anthem was sung by the congregation, and, as guests left the chapel, Pacific Island voices were again raised in a farewell song.
A few days later, members and friends of the RCS gathered for the annual Commonwealth Dinner at the Commonwealth Club in Yarralumla. The guest speaker was the British High Commissioner, HE Mrs Menna Rawlings, who gave a wide-ranging address on the importance of Commonwealth relationships.
A cheque for $5000 was presented to the winner of the 2017 Phyllis Montgomerie Award, Mitchell McMaster, by RCS president, Colin Milner. Mitchell, a PhD candidate at the ANU, received the award for his research into mild cognitive impairment and whether it can be halted or reversed in those affected by interventions such as diet, exercise and intellectual stimulation.