What a marvellous turnout for St Helena Day. This year Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has agreed the theme for this family should be the ‘Connected Commonwealth’. Building connections between people and, in particular, with our Commonwealth partners.

This year we mark the 70th anniversary of the modern Commonwealth. The Commonwealth is the largest worldwide partnership of countries after the UN, made up of 53 nations, and increasingly the overseas territories. Quite simply a family of friendly nations that have a wish to maintain a connection to the United Kingdom and amongst themselves.

People, governments and organisations across the Commonwealth connect through youth events, cultural networks and educational exchanges. We connect and work together to protect our natural environment and the oceans we share. We connect and cooperate amongst our businesses to encourage economic development. We connect and share in friendly rivalry on track and pitch and encourage our young people to participate in sport to develop achievement and generosity of spirit. This year at St Helena Day we honour the friendship of the Commonwealth to help us in being better citizens.

This year, Her Majesty has written:

“We are able to look to the future with greater confidence and optimism as a result of the links that we share, and thanks to the networks of cooperation and mutual support to which we contribute, and on which we draw. With enduring commitment through times of great change, successive generations have demonstrated that whilst the goodwill for which the Commonwealth is renowned may be hard to define, its impact is very real. We continue to find new ways of expressing through action the value of belonging in a connected Commonwealth.”

Her message of connection and goodwill echoes here today on St Helena. There will be contests and challenges, winners and the not so successful, excitement and surprises. But amongst the personal hopes and actions, remember we are stronger when we work together as a society, connected in a common spirit of friendship.Let us also offer our support to the Saints who will be participating in the forthcoming Island Games. Thousands of athletes will come together in June to compete in Gibraltar and Wales. It is another example of young people connecting across islands with similar hopes and desires as ourselves. St Helena can be proud we will be competing and flying the flag for our territory.

Growing up in small communities surrounded and shaped by the sea instils in us a resilient spirit, a pride in our heritage and a determination to defy the odds to be successful.

I am privileged to be here at the start of the St Helena Day 2019 celebrations.

HE Governor Dr Philip Rushbrook
21 May 2019

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