THE Commonwealth Flag will be raised in Hampshire on March 10 to mark Commonwealth Day.

For the first time, local authorities and civic dignitaries, community groups and charities throughout the British Isles are taking part in local flag-raising events and ceremonies of dedication to mark the special day.

Hampshire’s event will take place in the Courtyard of The Great Hall in Winchester, during which Hampshire County Council chairman Councillor Ken Thornber will read a specially written Commonwealth Affirmation.

A message from The Queen will be read by Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Hampshire, Dame Mary Fagan, before the raising of the Commonwealth Flag at 10am.

The flag will be jointly raised by young and upcoming Hampshire sports stars, gymnasts Laura Edwards, from Brockenhurst, and Kelly Simm, from Whiteley, judo athlete Sam Potts, from Locks Heath, and netball player Mia Ritchie from Lymington.

The quartet have had backing from the county council’s Hampshire Talented Athlete Scheme which aims to help Hampshire’s athletes reach world-class podiums.

A bugler will perform a special fanfare whilst the flag is being raised, and there will be songs performed by children from local schools.

Cllr Thornber said: “Hampshire welcomes new citizens from the Commonwealth every year, and it is right, therefore, that we invite new Hampshire citizens whose countries of origin are in the Commonwealth to join our ceremony in March, and take part in this unique act of dedication.

“The event has caught the imagination of thousands of participants across the country. It is a wonderful opportunity for Hampshire to connect with others nationwide in the widespread public expression of commitment to the Commonwealth, appreciation of the values it stands for, and the opportunities offered to its citizens around the world.”