Balloon goes up on Commonwealth celebrations

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CHILDREN in Holland Park, west London, preparing to release balloons to mark Commonwealth Day yesterday.

At Buckingham Palace, the Queen handed over a silver baton to a trio of athletes at the start of a symbolic journey, which will take five months.

The baton, which features representations of animals and birds and was made by aborigines, contains a 'secret' message. It will travel through the Commonwealth before arriving at Victoria, British Columbia, in August where the Queen will open the seal and read out the contents at the opening of the Commonwealth Games.

'Sport in the Commonwealth' was the theme linking yesterday's celebrations in 50 countries, with special attention paid to the Games.

At a Commonwealth Day Observance service in Westminster Abbey, at which her the Queen's message to the Commonwealth was read by Commonwealth Secretary-General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku. The Queen said outstanding sportsmen and women set an example of determination and dedication that could be followed by rich and poor alike. She spoke of the importance of sport in the development of both for individuals and nations. 'Our lives are a race we have to run. Sometimes the track is rough and if we are running on our own it can look like an impossible obstacle course. But by helping each other along we can make it an easier and fairer race.'

(Photograph omitted)