Mayors and Lord Mayors Representing All Seven West Midlands Local Authorities
Mayors and Lord Mayors representing all seven West Midlands local authorities are for the first time to be presented with Commonwealth flags (on Monday, 10 February 2014) that will later be raised in each of the local authority areas as part of an inaugural worldwide initiative to ‘Fly a flag for the Commonwealth’.
Each Mayor – representing Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton – will receive an individual flag presented by HM Lord-Lieutenant Paul Sabapathy CBE at a special ceremony being held at the Balaji Temple, Sandwell – the largest traditional Hindu temple in Europe. The Lord-Lieutenant is representing HM The Queen – Head of the Commonwealth. The Mayors and Lord Mayors will be Lord Mayor of Birmingham Councillor Mike Leddy, Lord Mayor of Coventry Councillor Gary Crookes, Mayor of Dudley Councillor Alan Finch, Mayor of Sandwell Councillor Linda Horton, Mayor of Solihull Councillor Joe Tildesley, Mayor of Walsall Councillor Mohammed Nazir, and Mayor of Wolverhampton Councillor Jasbir Jaspal.
The flag-presentation ceremony is part of a national and international initiative to mark Commonwealth Day on 10 March 2014 as well as celebrating this year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and commemorating the centenary of the outbreak of World War I – in which more than 2.5 million overseas Commonwealth citizens fought.
The presentation ceremony will be attended by, amongst other dignitaries, the High Commissioner of India, His Excellency Mr Ranjan Mathai IFS – who is making his first visit to the West Midlands since his appointment. He was previously Foreign Secretary in the government of India.
A Commonwealth flag will also be presented to Dr VPN Rao, chairman of the Balaji Temple. The temple has been chosen as the venue for the presentation because of its core values of engaging with all sections of the community across multiple faiths that are reflected in the activities and landscape of the temple. The main building at the temple is surrounded by hills dedicated to the seven major faiths – the Christian Hill having been inaugurated by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams.
Also attending the presentation will be Pageantmaster and also the originator of the ‘Fly a flag for the Commonwealth’ initiative, Bruno Peek LVO, OBE, OPR, and Birmingham-born philanthropist Peter Virdee of Virdee Foundation that is supporting the campaign.
Mr Sabapathy, who is an Indian born Anglican and the first non-white Lord-Lieutenant, said he was delighted that all seven West Midlands Mayors had accepted the invitation with every local authority in the county marking Commonwealth Day on March 10.
“The Commonwealth represents a third of the world’s population: 53 nations coming together voluntarily in a spirit of co-operation, partnership, tolerance and understanding in an interdependent multi-cultural world,” said Mr Sabapathy.
“The presentation of the Commonwealth flags will be one of the largest ceremonies in the UK and helps to symbolise the multicultural, multiple faith nature of the region. The Balaji Temple is a fitting location because of its inclusive approach and great interfaith work as well as being a centre of learning for future generations.
“This year is particularly special for the Commonwealth with the Commonwealth Games being held in July and the anniversary of the outbreak of World War I being commemorated – when so many citizens of the Commonwealth fought for our freedom including 1 million soldiers alone from the Indian subcontinent – suffering 74,000 casualties. I am particularly delighted that the Indian High Commissioner will attend and address guests,” said Mr Sabapathy.
Each of the flags will be flown from a local authority building in the seven council areas to mark Commonwealth Day on March 10.