Chevening Scholars were invited to attend the Commonwealth Day Service at the iconic Westminster Abbey. The day was especially significant for Chevening Scholars as one scholar, Kishva Ambigapathy, was asked to lead the Royal Family during the procession as the bearer of the Commonwealth Mace.


The service, an annual event which is the UK’s largest multi-faith celebration and is attended by dignitaries from around the Commonwealth, was infused with powerful messages of unity, partnership, and respect for differences, which tied in with the theme for the day – an inclusive Commonwealth. 

In her Commonwealth Day Message for 2016, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II wrote: ‘By including others, drawing on collective insights, knowledge and resources, and thinking and working together, we lay the foundations of a harmonious and progressive society’. 

Mr Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations, delivered the service’s keynote in which he said: ‘Today, the Commonwealth stands as a confident, modern, multicultural and proudly inclusive organisation. This puts the people at its heart and declares that plurality and diversity are its greatest strength. These are enduring principles which not only bind us together as citizens of the Commonwealth but are absolutely critical for our collective ambitions for our world. It has never been more important for the Commonwealth to stress the bonds of human compassion and solidarity that unite us across the divides of race and religion, gender and geography.’

Dr Joseph Muscat, Prime Minister of Malta, and the outgoing Commonwealth Secretary-General, His Excellency Kamalesh Sharma, also delivered addressed, whilst singer-songwriter, Ellie Goulding, led the entertainment by performing a rendition of Sting’s 1993 hit song Fields of Gold. The bassy voice of Simphiwe Simon Shibambu also impressed as he sang a traditional Xhosa song. 

Chevening Scholars present represented Malaysia, India, South Africa, Singapore, Mauritius, Jamaica, and New Zealand.

Sherika Whitelocke-Ballingsingh, a Chevening Scholar from Jamaica, shared her opinion of the day: ‘The resonating thought for me was the importance of networking, support, and equity amongst the Commonwealth family. Above all nations is humanity.’

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