The BRISLA Awards celebrates local champions who embody BRISLA’s mission to achieve a cohesive, fair and prosperous society. Those shortlisted ahead of the evening were able to demonstrate to BRISLA how they had excelled in this quest and rightly earned their right to attend the prestigious awards thanks to their fantastic work within their own sphere.
The winners were praised for their commitment by Dr Sivardeen, who opened the evening’s awards with an engaging speech.
Sir Anthony Seldon, Vice Chancellor of Buckingham University, Wasim Khan MBE, CEO of Leicestershire Cricket Club, H.E. James Dauris British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka and Ambassador to the Maldives and H.E. Sugeeshwara Gunaratna, Acting Sri Lankan High Commissioner to the UK delivered enthralling speeches relating to leadership, diversity and relations between the UK and Sri Lanka.
Guests in attendance at the Awards witnessed six overall winners receive their Outstanding Achievement and Contribution accolade across a four focus areas of: Healthcare; Literary Arts; Performing Arts and; Entrepreneurship.
Two special awards of Lifetime Achievement and Outstanding Friend to the British Sri Lankan were also crowned winners on the night.
The BRISLA 2018 winners:
- Outstanding Achievement in Healthcare: Professor Karim Meeran
o sponsored by Research Intelligence Unit
o presented by The Worshipful The Mayor of the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames
- Outstanding contribution to Literary Arts: Mr. Michael Roc Thomas
o sponsored by Olympia Clinic
o presented by The Worshipful The Mayor of Harrow
- Outstanding contribution to Performing Arts sponsored by St James’s Place Wealth Management: Miss. Dilini Seneviratne
o Presented by H.E. Sugeeshwara Gunaratna, Sri Lankan High Commissioner to UK
- Lifetime achievement award sponsored by Al Rayan Bank: Dr. Desmond Biddulph CBE:
o presented by Wasim Khan MBE, CEO of Leicestershire Cricket Club.
- Entrepreneur of the Year: Mr. Des Gunawardena
o Sponsored by Specsavers Opticians
o Presented by Sir Anthony Seldon, Vice Chancellor at Buckingham University
- Outstanding Friend to the British Sri Lankan community: The Rt Hon. the Lord Naseby:
o Sponsored by GrowTraffic Limited
o Presented by H.E. James Dauris, British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka and Ambassador to Maldives
Dr Sivardeen commented on the Awards evening: ‘These pioneering awards pay tribute to the amazing work and dedication of secret heroes and this evening was about saying thank you and acknowledging the impact they all have.
‘BRISLA was established over four years ago, and we have made great strides in our mission to promote diversity and integration in our community. But there is still a way to go, particularly now in unsettling times ahead of Brexit.
‘The Awards evening also gave us the opportunity to shine a light on our vision for 2019, and galvanise everyone in the room to maintain momentum with their fantastic work to create harmonious, inclusive communities.’
Mrs Chani Simms, secretary of BRISLA added: ‘It has been a very humbling evening to hear people’s stories and learn about their resilience and commitment to create a diverse, united world. Each shortlisted candidate knows that if we are to achieve this, it starts at a grass roots level and it was a delight to see individuals rewarded for their efforts. I applaud and congratulate everyone who made it through to the short-list. You are all winners in my eyes.’
Dr Sivardeen concludes: ‘The best way for our organisation to evolve and learn is to be inspired by others, and the evening delivered this with aplomb. I, with my BRISLA attendees, leave the evening feeling inspired and with a renewed sense of purpose.’