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Ocean advocate delivers Commonwealth Day address

Lewis Pugh, OIG (1999), endurance swimmer and ocean advocate, was recently asked by HM The Queen to give the address to the modern Commonwealth on its 70th Anniversary at a service in Westminster Abbey.

Over 2,000 people from across the world attended the service and the theme of this year’s event was “A Connected Commonwealth”, with member countries being urged to protect natural resources and the environment. Lewis spoke to the congregation about how he has witnessed oceans “change completely” during his 32 years of swimming.

Lewis read International Law as a postgraduate at Jesus College. Over 30 years he has pioneered swims in the most vulnerable ecosystems on earth to campaign for their protection. He was the first to swim across the North Pole and the full length of the English Channel. In 2013, the United Nations appointed him UN Patron of the Oceans. Lewis has helped protect over 2 million square kilometres of vulnerable ocean, and his aim is to protect 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030.

Alumni Grace Chatto (2005) and Jack Patterson (2005), members of the Grammy-winning electronic music group Clean Bandit, also performed at the Commonwealth Day celebration. Watch the full service here or skip ahead to 24:11 for Clean Bandit’s performance and 27:54 for Lewis’ address.


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