Rotarians from across the Commonwealth celebrated the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee by lighting beacons in her honour.
The celebrations took place at the beginning of June to mark the Queen’s 70 years of service from the Pacific Island of Vanuatu to Ghana, the city of London – and even Hawaii!
Sree Vallipuram from Westminster West Rotary in London was contacted by the Queen’s Pagentmaster last year to enlist Rotary’s help with the lighting of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee beacons in all Commonwealth capital cities.
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“I had served at the Commonwealth Secretariat for several years and been a Rotarian since 1995, so I was comfortable we could meet the challenge,” said Sree, who initially contacted all the District Governors in the Commonwealth capital cities.
“The challenge was to convince Rotarians that it was a worthwhile effort, especially as there was no budget allocated. A few Rotary clubs were very honoured to be asked, but many wanted to know the relevance of the event to Rotary.
“It became clear that when Rotarians engaged with each other and external parties to plan and organise the event, they would impact all the eight pillars of positive peace in varying degrees.”
An important feature of the beacons being lit from the easternmost to the westernmost cities on June 2nd at 9.15pm local time was that it resulted in a global peace wave, referred to as the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Rotary Positive Peace Wave.
Beacon lighting reached destinations far and wide, with the countries creating their own cultural take on the celebration:
- Vanuatu: Rotarian Cornelia Wyllie from the Rotary Club of Port Vila led the lighting on the Pacific island of a beacon, floated on a bamboo raft, while a bagpiper played Diu Regnare.
- Malaysia: Rotarians from Greentown Rotary organised an event at the Royal Selangor Club in Kuala Lumpur attended by the British High Commissioner.
- Malta: Seventy beacons were lit to mark each year of the Queen’s reign. The then President of the Rotary Club of Malta, Robert Ghirlando, along with the British and Australian High Commissioners were present. (Credit Sue Simmons for Malta photos)
- London: The Rotary Club of London and City Livery Club jointly organised the lighting of a beacon on the roof terrace of Nomura Bank overlooking the River Thames. The then President David Johnson welcomed a number of guests including the Deputy Secretary General of the Commonwealth and the Lord Mayor of London.
- Southern Africa: Past District Governor, Grant Daly, co-ordinated the lighting of beacons in District 9400 which covered Pretoria in South Africa, Mbabane in Eswatini, Maputo in Mozambique and Gaborone in Botswana.
- Namibia: Three beacons were lit by Rotarians in Windhoek, Tsumeb and Walvis Bay. Tsumeb, which is a small town 400km from Windhoek, will charter the first Rotary club in the region following the beacon lighting in Namibia.
- Canada: Beacons were lit in the grounds of City Hall in Ottawa by the then District Governor Nominee, Teresa Whitmore and in Toronto, it was lit in Casa Loma at an event organised by Rotarian Hans Bathija.
- Grenada: The then President Alphonsus Daniel and members of the Rotary Club of Grenada, lit a beacon in Morne Rouge Bay.
- Hawaii: Although not in the Commonwealth, Rotary beacons were lit at a number of venues to mark the strong ties with Great Britain.