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Story Highlights

  • The service traditionally signals the start of Independence celebrations in the UK
  • Jamaica’s High Commissioner, Her Excellency Aloun Ndombet Assamba, read the Prime Minister’s Independence Message
  • The Service featured a special rendition of the National Pledge by 18 children of Jamaican heritage

Hundreds of Jamaicans from across the United Kingdom attended the annual service of praise and thanksgiving hosted by the Jamaican High Commission on Saturday, August 3.

The service, which was held at the Southwark Cathedral in London, traditionally signals the start of Independence celebrations in the UK.

Jamaica’s High Commissioner, Her Excellency Aloun Ndombet Assamba, who read the Prime Minister’s Independence Message, told the congregation that there was strong determination and immense confidence in Jamaica that the country will succeed and create greater opportunities for future generations.

This confidence and determination, she said, comes from the love and dedication shown by Jamaicans at home and in the Diaspora.

“This was evident by the record number of delegates who attended this year’s Biennial Diaspora Conference in Montego Bay, from June 16 to 19. It was a wonderful show of confidence in the future of the country as many who attended the conference also signalled their readiness to invest in Jamaica,” Mrs. Assamba said.

The High Commissioner also noted that this year’s Independence celebrations coincide with two significant events in the history of Jamaicans in the United Kingdom – the 65th anniversary of the arrival of the Empire Windrush, which signalled the start of multicultural Britain; and the 20th anniversary of the death of Stephen Lawrence, a young black man who was murdered in a racist attack while waiting for a bus in April 1993.

She used the opportunity to publicly congratulate Stephen’s mother, Doreen Lawrence, on her elevation to a seat in the House of Lords.

Pastor of the New Jerusalem Church in Birmingham, Yvonne Brooks, delivered the sermon during which she expressed pride to be Jamaican noting that Jamaicans are “full of tenacity and full of resources.”

“We must never forget our connection. I know that we are a blessed people.  I don’t want us to lose our tenacity in this modern age….we must never forget where God has brought us from.  We are here to celebrate, to reflect for a few moments, not so much on our past, but what is to come for the future, and what we need to do as a people,” she said.

Pastor Brooks told the congregation that God has an expected outcome for each and every person and “he will take control of your life when you let him.”

The Service featured a special rendition of the National Pledge by 18 children of Jamaican heritage, choreographed by Connie Bell. Actress Marcia Mantack performed a monologue titled ‘Journeying On’, while the newly formed British Heart Foundation Gospel Choir also performed.  Jamaica Defence Force Officer Cadets Omar Cover and Tameka Stewart marched in with the Jamaican Flag.

Anglican Suffragan Bishop of Kingston, the Reverend Dr. Robert Thompson, was a special guest at the service and gave the blessing; while Pastor, Dr. Richard deLisser, blessed the offering which this year will go to the United Way of Jamaica for the Rise Life Management Youth Programme, and the Dispute Resolution Foundation of Jamaica Youth Programme.

Other participating clergy included the Reverend Prebendary Rose Hudson Wilkin and the Sub Dean and Canon of Southwark Cathedral, Reverend Bruce Saunders.