BRIMMING with pride, community leaders gathered to celebrate Commonwealth Day.
Portsmouth joined hundreds of other UK regions to lift the Commonwealth Flag in honour of the Commonwealth of Nations, a group of 53 nations formerly under the British Empire.
It’s right we remember what it’s all about; and that’s getting along together regardless of race, religion or gender.Cllr Frank Jonas, the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth
It’s an international initiative celebrating the value of the Commonwealth and the importance of different cultures and peaceful communities.
The city’s commemorations in Guildhall Square kicked off with a message from His Excellency Kamalesh Sharma, secretary-general of the Commonwealth.
Then there was the reading of the Commonwealth Affirmation and the raising of the flag by the leader of Portsmouth City Council, Councillor Donna Jones, and the Lord Mayor, Councillor Frank Jonas.
The mayor gave a speech followed by readings by local representatives of nations on their experiences of the Commonwealth.
Cllr Jones said it was an honour to be involved.
She said: ‘Commonwealth Day is an international event that I had great privilege in being part of on behalf of the citizens of Portsmouth, bringing together the constitution of the 53 countries of the Commonwealth and the shared aspirations that we have.
‘They include improving outcomes for people, equality and fairness, and improving international links we have around the world.
‘The value of the Commonwealth is as important as ever in 2016 in an ever-growing global market.’
Mr Jonas added: ‘It’s very important we celebrate Commonwealth Day.
‘Years ago it was known as Empire Day.
‘Our commonwealth is unique.
‘It’s great getting together with people all over the world, people of all nationals and religions.
‘We had a great turnout and some very good speakers.
‘It’s right we remember what it’s all about and that’s getting along together regardless of race, religion or gender.’
Abu-Suyeb Tanzam, of Portsmouth Bangali Community Association, also attended.
He said: ‘This is important for everybody. We feel the Commonwealth is part of our heritage.
‘It’s very important to build strong relationships with other countries.
‘I was proud to be there as a British national.’
Meanwhile, Fareham mayor, Councillor Mike Ford, and mayoress Anne Ford went to a flag raising ceremony in Winchester.
The flag was also raised by Havant Borough Council officers at its civic offices.