Performance for Peace – Reflections and Prayer in Unity and Hope

Rev John Whitaker, Jason Kouchak and Dr Zimar Sivardeen

In May, BRISLA organised the Performance for Peace: Reflections and Prayer in Unity and Hope at St Mary’s Church, Putney following the tragic events in Easter in Sri Lanka.

The event, organised in co-ordination with leading international musician Jason Kouchak and friends, provided an environment to reflect and remember the lives lost and the importance of unity with diversity. The ceremony was attended by a diverse representation of distinguished guests from across all faiths and communities including diplomatic missions, religious representatives and leading social leaders including Mr Nirj Deva, Deputy Lieutenant of Greater London

Speaking at the event, Dr Zimar Sivardeen, Chairman of BRISLA, spoke of the importance of dialogue and cultural understanding between communities as an important tool to build social engagement and inclusion. The ceremony included a moment of reflection followed by a beautiful performance from Jason Kouchak and supporting musicians. A summary of Dr Sivardeen’s speech is available to download with the full speech available on the YouTube video above.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon

Further speakers at the event included Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, Minister of State for the Commonwealth and the United Nations and the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy on Freedom of Religion or Belief, who spoke of his personal religious upbringing and the importance of diversity and community.

H.E. Manisha Gunasekera with Reverend John Whittaker

H.E. Manisha Gunasekera, High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to the United Kingdom, also spoke of the importance of international collaboration in building communities and social inclusion. This was supported by speeches from the Mayors of Wandsworth and the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames and Mr Imtiaz Ahmed and Father Michael O’Dean.


Jason Kouchak and the talented musicians at the Performance for Peace

The event ended with the lighting of ceremonial candles to support the reflection and represent the role of cohesion between communities.

Agenda of the Performance for Peace

 

Message from BRISLA following the tragic Easter Sunday events in Sri Lanka

We express our sadness at the acts of barbarity in Sri Lanka during the holy Easter Sunday. 

We would like to extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to all those affected; worshippers of Christian faith during the holy Easter weekend, and individuals and families – both local and from overseas, who lost their lives. Our thoughts are also with the unfortunate members of all communities who were injured and who experienced this terrible scene.

We would like to thank the work of the emergency services and those who voluntarily donated blood during this tragic period.

These shameful and despicable attacks transcend politics and policies; belief and non-belief.

It is now more important than ever to highlight the objectives that BRISLA promotes; unity with diversity.

Moving forward, it is imperative that all of us from diverse origins join together in a spirit of peace and seek harmony.

We, as members of humanity, of all faiths and no faith, must stand together against these atrocities.

BRISLA Awards 2018 – Winners Announced

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.

Watch a video from the event kindly produced by Islam Channel

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.’

 

Event Photos: