MEMBERS of staff at HMS Collingwood were given a taste of music and food from two countries last week to mark Commonwealth Day on March 14; with a theme of both Fiji and the Caribbean throughout a morning of culture held at the base.
Upon arrival staff were greeted by the smiling faces of members of the Catering Services Shore Employment Team (CSSET), glorious aromas filling the air and a backdrop of music. This included calypso and Caribbean tunes being played alongside a general hubbub of conversation.
Food and drink treats were available throughout, which included Fijian coconut rice, beef patties and jerk chicken. For dessert staff were invited to have banana bread or cassava cake; both handmade products by the CSSNET team.
The morning also gave staff a chance to reflect on why they joined the Royal Navy and its much valued links to the Commonwealth. This wasn’t lost on Lieutenant Re Tagivetaua who is originally from Fiji and was keen to showcase the treats available.
He also explained how he joined the Navy, saying: “I grew up in a small village and in 2004 there was an opportunity for people in Commonwealth countries to apply to join up. It was a very simple online process and I was invited to come over for an interview and a fitness test.”
“I returned to Fiji for three or four months before joining HMS Raleigh in 2005. Since then I’ve been able to bring my wife and children over to live here but I’ve also been at sea for sixteen years and seen many countries in that time!”
Able Seaman (AB) Dorcia de Freitas also seemed to enjoy the morning, which definitely seemed to brighten up a chilly Monday morning at HMS Collingwood. Having joined the Royal Navy back in 2016, she said, “I’m glad I joined up, I’m really enjoying the naval life.”
Commonwealth Day is an annual celebration observed by people all over the Commonwealth in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Americas, the Pacific and Europe. Next year’s events will be marked on March 13 (Monday) including a service at Westminster Abbey.
PICTURED BY KEITH WOODLAND (CROWN COPYRIGHT): Some of the CSSET team with dishes of the delicious food on offer to staff last Monday (March 14).