Citizenship first for Essex
THE first citizenship ceremony in Essex has taken place at Chelmsford's county hall.A new law means adults applying for naturalisation or registration as a British citizen will have to take part in one of the ceremonies.
THE first citizenship ceremony in Essex has taken place at Chelmsford's county hall.
A new law means adults applying for naturalisation or registration as a British citizen will have to take part in one of the ceremonies.
Each new citizen individually gives an oath and pledge before receiving a certificate and information pack.
Similar ceremonies are carried out in countries including the United States, Australia and Canada.
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Melinda Mayall who was born and bought up in Australia was one of 30 people who took part in the first Essex ceremony yesterday.
Mrs Mayall, 29, is originally from Bendigo in the state of Victoria.
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She came to the UK on a working visa in 1997 and married a British man in 2000.
The legal secretary, who is expecting her first child in May, lives in Priory Street, Colchester.
She said: "I thought the ceremony was really lovely.
"I am very settled here. I visit Australia every couple of years.
"My baby will be born a British citizen so I will have to apply to Australia for citizenship for them which will feel a bit odd."
Mrs Mayall and the other new citizens were all given a pen and key-ring by Essex County Council.
The new arrangements were introduced because the old set-up for considering applications was considered bureaucratic and did little to help people coming to the UK to gain a full understanding of the rights and responsibilities that came with the acquisition of British citizenship.
The citizenship ceremonies are conducted by registration officers at local register offices, civic buildings and other venues.
Registration officers were chosen to carry out the ceremonies because of their experience in conducting wedding ceremonies.
Most ceremonies will be for a group of new citizens although individual ceremonies are also offered for an additional fee.