AS the bugles sounded silence befell one of the oldest courtyards in Hampshire and the flag slowly inched its way up the pole to mark Commonwealth Day.

Over 50 people gathered at Winchester’s Great Hall on March 10 to see the Commonwealth flag raised by some of Hampshire’s most promising athletes.

Gymnasts Laura Edwards from Brockenhurst, Kelly Simm from Whiteley, judo athlete Sam Potts from Locks Heath and netball player Mia Ritchie from Lymington were nominated to take part in the day’s celebrations.

Children from Western Church of England Primary School and Prince’s Mead School sang Jerusalem as proud parents, local councillors and officials looked on.

A message from the Queen was read by Lord-Lieutenant Dame Mary Fagan: “A message for those taking part and flying the flag for the Commonwealth. We shall see a record number of commonwealth flags raised in one day. I send my good wishes to all who are taking part.”

A specially-written Commonwealth Affirmation was read out by Hampshire County Council chairman Councillor Ken Thornber.

The responding pledge read: “Our pledge is to support the Commonwealth, working together for a future in which there is freedom and justice and prosperity for all, with peace and understanding between peoples and nations.

Cllr Thornber added: “My thanks to our athletes and our buglers and to Western Primary School and Prince’s Mead School who sang beautifully this morning. You all did wonderfully.”