Members of Britain’s Sri Lankan community gather to honour leading figures for their work in diverse fields

The Long Room at Lord’s – holy ground for cricket lovers – was the venue for the annual awards ceremony of BRISLA, the British Sri Lankan Association, on October 14. Among the guests were HE Amari Wijewardene, Sri Lankan High Commissioner to the UK, Professor Karol Sikora, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Buckingham, and former England cricketer Geoff Miller.

The association, a non-profit, non-political organisation, aims to facilitate co-operation and build partnerships between the UK and Sri Lanka in areas including education, health affairs and sustainable trade and investment. This year it organised a trade mission to Sri Lanka to foster such links.

Dr Zimar Sivardeen, BRISLA’s chairman, praised the strength of entries for this year’s awards, adding that the event had helped raise a substantial amount for the Equality-based Community Support And Training (ECSAT) charity, which supports nearly 400 disabled children at three centres in the south of Sri Lanka.

‘The BRISLA Awards celebrate the many ways British Sri Lankans make positive contributions to their communities,’ said Dr Sivardeen. ‘We have seen some outstanding examples of this over the last few months that have really captured the hearts and minds of the general public.The purpose of the awards is to raise awareness in the general public of the importance and benefit of social integration.’

Among the scientifically established benefits of diversity, said the BRISLA chairman, were creativity, cognitive flexibility, and better intercultural communication, essential for business in a globalised world. ‘However,’ he added, ‘ticking the diversity box is not enough. We need to be mindful of our corporate cultures, and create conditions conducive to drawing out the dividends that diversity can provide.’

Winners on the night included: Ratheesan Yoganathan (Entrepreneur of the Year), Professor Mudiyanse Dissanayake (Outstanding Achievement in the Arts), Professor Hilali Noordeen (Outstanding Achievement in Healthcare), Arunasalam Thirukeetheeswaran (Local Community Hero of the Year), Venerable Bogoda Seelawimala (Outstanding Contribution to Interfaith) and Chandra Monerawela (Lifetime Achievement Award).


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