Flags will fly to mark the Commonwealth’s community of nations

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THIS year’s Commonwealth Day will be bigger than ever as communities across the region get in on the act.

Portsmouth, Fareham, Gosport and Havant will hold flag-raising ceremonies at 10am on Monday.

In Portsmouth, the flags of each of the 53 Commonwealth nations will be paraded into Guildhall Square by schoolchildren, community groups, residents and representatives of the Royal Navy and the RAF.

There will then be speeches and the raising of the Commonwealth Flag, followed by performances by choirs and traditional Indian and Bengali dancers.

To mark the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings, flags of countries that took part will be raised on the flagpoles in front of the Civic Offices.

Portsmouth Lord Mayor, Cllr Lynne Stagg, said: ‘We recognise the diversity of our Commonwealth countries and the cultures of Portsmouth residents with origins in them.

‘In this year of the 70th anniversary of D-Day, we especially honour their collective contributions in the First and Second world wars.’

In Fareham, the flag will be raised by mayor Cllr Susan Bradford in West Street.

Fareham event organiser Bruno Peek said: ‘This will be the largest single raising of the Commonwealth Flag in the history of the Commonwealth.

‘The success of this year’s event bodes well for 2015 and the future and I’m convinced this annual occasion will grow in size and stature over the next few years.’

In Havant, crowds will gather at the Plaza to watch mayor Cllr Paul Buckley raise the Commonwealth Flag.

Cllr Buckley said he was proud Havant would be part of the worldwide event.

‘This is a meaningful way to demonstrate our togetherness,’ he said.

‘Not just across the borough, or across the country but across the 53 nations of the Commonwealth.’

Gosport will hold its flag-raising in Falkland Gardens.

Gosport mayor Cllr John Beavis said: ‘We’re delighted to be one of the many authorities taking part in this event, which is expected to become an annual occasion held countrywide.’

The event celebrates the value of the Commonwealth in uniting a family of nations in a common cause of tolerance, unity and peace.

It will also set the tone for the Commonwealth Games, to take place in Glasgow from July 23 to August 3.