This morning, we held our CW day service at St Phillips Cathedral. Some of our guests here this evening will have been there.
This was something we introduced 3 years ago, for it seemed very appropriate to us, as the 2nd city, that we had our very own Commonwealth Day service. We are, after all, the best city in the UK outside London and that is not just me saying that.
Can I first of all thank the Bishop of Birmingham for facilitating the service and for the excellent support his team provided. I must also thank the near 70 strong children’s choir from Nishkam school, the B’ham City Council Choir, Cadets from the Motivational Preparation College for Training, Caudwell Children, Clare Noakes, soloist, Faith leaders and students from BCU, for their most appreciated contribution to the event and indeed, those of our members and guests who attended.
We are a diverse organisation, notwithstanding, our main focus is upon Commonwealth outcomes in the areas of trade, Diaspora and Education. Indeed, a few months ago, Birmingham City Council published a tender for an organisation to help them leverage the benefits from the city hosting the Commonwealth Games to support their local food and drink supply chain to engage with international commonwealth markets. We were successful in winning that tender and set about organising a commonwealth SME Food/Drink supply chain event in the summer of this year. In the spirit of partnership and collaboration, we invited a number of partners to join us. All are represented here tonight:
The Food Foundation, The GBCC, The Director of Public Health for B’ham, The B’ham Consular Assoc, B’ham City and Aston University, The African Business Chamber, The Greater B’ham and Solihull LEP Growth Hub and Cleone Foods Ltd.
We thank them, with the skills, knowledge, experience and network they will bring to the party, for their participation in this exciting opportunity, further putting B’ham on the world map and benefiting from the game’s legacy.
Last Friday we were given the green light to hold our event on 28 and 29th July at what will become UK House in Broad St working alongside DIT. We have already recruited our Event Manager who is also with us tonight. If you are in the food/drink sector, directly or indirectly, we would like to talk to you.
And talking about legacy, whilst it is understandable that London should dominate the scene when it comes to a UK wide commonwealth hub, including the international headquarters of the Commonwealth Secretariat and Commonwealth Foundation, why cannot Birmingham justify its own broad based commonwealth hub and what better time than now to look to do that.
Birmingham is home to citizens from every CW nation, and we believe that the economic growth and investment potential, which the Games and investment in infrastructure, such as HS2, will ‘super-charge’, make it a prime position from which to host such a facility. The Commonwealth games being held here, offers an undeniable opportunity to create a lasting legacy which may not have happened otherwise.
The City is outward looking with a vibrant diaspora of commonwealth citizens and our fantastic connectivity to regional markets provide a basis on which a post Games business, trade and investment legacy can be built.
We have kickstarted the process of gaining support for this excellent initiative with further work to be done.
In closing, can I welcome to our dinner this evening two athletes, two gentlemen, who are waiting to hear whether they will be successful in representing England in the forthcoming games, Delicious Orie and Niall Farrell (can I invite you both to stand up gentlemen so are guests can see who you are). We wish both of you success not only in being selected but in bringing home one of those medals, whatever its colour.