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The Commonwealth's rich tapestry

With Commonwealth Day coming up on March 8, now is a good time to check the progress of the Golden Tapestry project. Hundreds of schools from countries across the Commonwealth are making their own one metre square tapestry that reflects their part of the world. These will eventually be part of a mighty mosaic tapestry, which could measure up to 1800 square metres, to be unveiled at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games.

A gallery of completed tapestries is now available online at www.goldentapestry.com and will be continually added to, with each school having a page dedicated to them.

Many wonderful stories are surfacing from the project. St Mary's School on Tristan da Cunha in the South Atlantic, the most remote settlement in the world, signed up and took delivery of their resource packs in late January.

It took some doing. The RAF 216 Squadron flew the packs for free from the UK to Ascension Island, 2000km from St Helena, where Andrew Weir Shipping used the services of the mail ship RMS St Helena (again for free) to get them to St Mary's. GlaxoSmithKline chipped in to sponsor the school's registration. The handful of primary school students at the school (there are 29 students in total, aged four to 15) are now stitching together a glimpse of their unique life. At last count, there were 375 primary and special schools signed up to the project, from 28 countries: Anguilla, Australia, Botswana, Brunei, Cameroon, Canada, England, Falkland Islands, Ghana, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Jamaica, Jersey, Kenya, Malawi, Malaysia, Mauritius, Montserrat, Namibia, St Helena, Scotland, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Trinidad and Tobago, Tristan da Cunha, Uganda, Wales and Zambia.

Scores of schools are being added each month - 18 signed up in one week last month.

Chief executive of the project, Lizzie Owen, is hoping to have representation from all 54 countries of the Commonwealth and is edging closer to the goal. She is even holding out hopes that Zimbabwe may return to the Commonwealth in time for schools to take part. "Entries will close around mid-2005 but if Zimbabwe were to come good after that, we would bust a gut to get schools there up and running," she says. "And we'd certainly be very flexible with other developing countries."

To register, contact Lizzie Owen, chief executive, The Millennium Tapestry CompanyTel: (0)1869 233165 Fax: (0)1869 233215 Email: goldentapestry@btinternet.comFor information on Commonwealth Day, see:www.commonwealthday.co.uk

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