August 20 2014 Latest news:
Janine Rasiah, Senior Reporter
Monday, March 31, 2014
People from Armenia, Hong Kong and Somalia were among those who became British citizens in a ceremony which marked a decade of citizenship ceremonies in Newham.
More than 35,000 people have become British citizens in the borough over the past ten years, including those who have moved to escape war, or for study or work.
The ceremonies are a more personal way of welcoming new citizens to Britain and into their local community instead of just signing a document with a solicitor.
New citizens are asked to affirm an oath of allegiance to the Queen and make a public pledge to observe the laws of the country and uphold its values, before being presented with a nationality certificate and a commemorative medal.
Christopher San Diego, 29, who is originally from the Philippines, was among the latest group of new British citizens.
He says he is pleased that he will now be able to permanently live with his British wife, Maria, and their two children, after missing the first year of his five-year-old son’s life due to the distance between them.
“It was a very long distance relationship,” Christopher, who now lives in Plaistow, said. “The ceremony was very special because it took me five years to get the citizenship.”
Last week’s historic ceremony was attended by Sir Robin Wales, the Mayor of Newham, who helped welcomed new citizens to the borough.
“I’m proud that for generations Newham has been the first place in the UK that new arrivals call home,” he said.
“I believe we are one community with a multitude of backgrounds, identities and experiences and I celebrate those differences. Our diverse backgrounds and histories make this a richer, more exciting and more dynamic place.”