We’re excited to announce the BRISLA Awards 2019 will be taking place at the Conrad Hotel. Continue reading BRISLA Awards 2019
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.
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, 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.
British Sri Lankan Association (BRISLA) chairman Dr Zimar Sivardeen delivered a rousing speech celebrating the unity and diversity of the Commonwealth to distinguished guests at a big luncheon held in London this week.
The event, which took place at the Millennium Hotel in Knightsbridge on Wednesday 11 April, brought together senior figures to highlight the importance of the Commonwealth and discuss ways of tackling current and future challenges facing Commonwealth countries. Many special guests were in attendance and as always our Chairman, Dr Sivardeen reminded everyone how passionate BRISLA are about upholding the shared values of the Commonwealth nations.
Commonwealth Day 2018
The BRISLA luncheon took place almost exactly one month after we celebrated Commonwealth Day 2018, which was held March 12 this year.
The day of observation is an annual opportunity to celebrate the links between Commonwealth communities across the world. Quite a big celebration considering more than 2.4 billion people live in the 53 nations that make up the Commonwealth! It’s around 30 percent of the world’s population.
Traditionally, in the UK, The Union Flag is flown from public buildings on the second Monday in March to mark the occasion. The Queen also makes a special trip with her family to Westminster Abbey, where a service takes place. Elsewhere around the world, many countries celebrate in their own unique ways, but with the common bond that is the Commonwealth.
Each year, BRISLA mark the occasion and the continued unity of the commonwealth with a luncheon.
This year was no different and as Sri Lanka and Britain are both important members of the Commonwealth, we came together in style to celebrate at the Millennium Hotel in Knightsbridge.
Our distinguished guests included; Wing Commander Mike Dudgeon OBE DL, Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London, H.E. Sugeeshwara Gunaratna, Acting Sri Lankan High Commissioner in the UK, Mr Fergus Auld OBE, Head of South Asia Department and India Co-ordinator, Foreign and Commonwealth, Mr Zach Harkenrider, Counselor for Political Affairs, U.S. Embassy London, and former England cricketer Mike Gatting OBE.
The lunch was made additionally special, as Dr Sivardeen had previously been invited to sign the House of Commons Book of Tribute to former South African President, Nelson Mandela, joining the likes of leading political figures and celebrities including former President of the United States, Barack Obama and Paul McCartney.
Nelson Mandela was a key participant of the Commonwealth so Dr Zimar Sivardeen was humbled and honoured to be asked to write a message of peace and love to him.
Here is the message left in the book on behalf of everyone at BRISLA:
“His courage to sacrifice his own freedom for his people and country, and rewrite history, is one of the greatest triumphs of the century. In his honour, we must all remain dedicated to bringing people together to live in peace.”
A Rousing Speech
After lunch was eaten, Dr Zimar Sivardeen gave a powerful and inspiring speech:
‘The Commonwealth advantage – with its shared values, regulatory framework and language – has the potential to increase trade within the Commonwealth, reducing business costs between member countries. Diversity plays a key part in innovation, creativity and divergent thoughts.’
In keeping with this years theme of unity, Dr Sivardeen continued:
‘In the changing times of merging cultures and constantly shifting identities, feeling connected to our history and roots is important. Furthermore, feeling connected to the range of people that surround us today, as well as celebrating the opportunities of the present moment, is equally as vital’
And then to finish off his speech:
‘By standing together we do NOT stand alone’
Dr Sivardeen also emphasised the need to work together with young people to ensure their voices are heard on important Commonwealth issues and highlighted the important positive political, economic and societal contributions being made by women.
Leading figures in the British Sri Lankan community were recognised for their hard work at the annual BRISLA Awards earlier this month. The annual celebration, in its third year was sponsored by Specsavers and Sri Lankan Airlines and held at the historical Lord’s Cricket Ground. We had a great night proudly celebrating the achievements of British Sri Lankans in fields ranging from business through to healthcare.
Last month, BRISLA joined the local Harrow community to celebrate the Sri Lankan Sinhalese and Tamil New Year. It was a beautiful day that was enjoyed by all who where lucky enough to be a part of the celebrations, and our President and Chairman, Dr Zimar Sivardeen, was honoured to be there and represent BRISLA on behalf of all our members. Continue reading Sri Lankan Sinhalese and Tamil New Year’s Celebrations.
Last month, BRISLA was incredibly proud to be able to facilitate their inaugural mercantile trip to Sri Lanka, and we’re very pleased to report that it was a huge success on all fronts. Continue reading BRISLA Mercantile Trip to Sri Lanka
It’s one of the founding principles of The British Sri Lankan Association to forge strong and enduring links between the two great nations of Britain and Sri Lanka, so we’re incredibly proud to be able to announce our latest venture; a trade mission to Sri Lanka. Continue reading BRISLA Trade Mission To Sri Lanka
Last month, March 2016, BriSLA was honoured to meet the British Foreign Secretary, the Rt. Hon. Phillip Hammond MP, who confirmed that he shares BriSLA’s vision for a better world. Continue reading BriSLA’s Keynote Speech