From left: BRISLA Secretary & Meta Defence Labs UK & Sri Lanka MD Chani Simms, BRISLA Treasurer Michael McKay, Leicestershire Cricket Club CEO Wasim Khan MBE, Lord Naseby, President of The College of Ophthalmologists Michael Burdon, BRISLA Publicity Officer Vigneswara Kumar, BRISLA Chairman Dr. Zimar Sivardeen
From left: BRISLA Executive Committee Arron Sahota, British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka and Ambassador to the Maldives James Dauris, BRISLA Secretary & Meta Defence Labs UK & Sri Lanka MD Chani Simms, Mayor of the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames Cllr Thay Thayalan, Brigadier Simon Banton OBE, BRISLA Treasurer Michael McKay, and BRISLA Publicity Officer Vigneswara Kumar
From left: British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka and Ambassador to the Maldives James Dauris and Acting Sri Lankan High Commissioner to the UK ugeeshwara Gunaratna
Lord Naseby (left) receiving Outstanding Contribution to the British Sri Lankan Community award from British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka and Ambassador to the Maldives James Dauris
Wasim Khan, MBE (right) presenting the Lifetime Achievement Award to Dr Desmond Biddulph CBE
A local optician who is passionate about supporting the Sri Lankan community in the UK united with Altair, a real estate company based in Sri Lanka, to host the BRISLA (British Sri Lanka Association) Awards on 13 October at the Long Room, Lord’s Cricket Ground.
Host of the evening, BRISLA Chair and Specsavers New Malden Director Dr Zimar Sivardeen rubbed shoulders with special guests and dignitaries, who made an appearance at the awards to show their support to BRISLA and the award nominees’ contributions to society. With the support of Indocean Developers Ltd. and Altair as Platinum sponsors, the BRISLA Awards celebrated 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.
Buckingham University Vice Chancellor Sir Anthony Seldon, Leicestershire Cricket Club CEO Wasim Khan, MBE, British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka and Ambassador to the Maldives James Dauris and Acting Sri Lankan High Commissioner to the UK Sugeeshwara Gunaratna 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 the 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, sponsored by Research Intelligence Unit: Professor Karim Meeran, presented by Mayor of the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames Cllr Thay Thayalan
Outstanding Contribution to Literary Arts, sponsored by Olympia Clinic: Michael Roc Thomas, presented by Mayor of Harrow Cllr Kareema Marikar
Outstanding Contribution to Performing Arts, sponsored by St James’s Place Wealth Management: Dilini Seneviratne, presented by Sri Lankan High Commissioner to UK Sugeeshwara Gunaratna
Lifetime Achievement Award, sponsored by Al Rayan Bank: Dr. Desmond Biddulph CBE, presented by Leicestershire Cricket Club CEO Wasim Khan, MBE.
Entrepreneur of the Year, sponsored by Specsavers Opticians: Des Gunawardena, presented by Buckingham University Vice Chancellor Sir Anthony Seldon
Outstanding Friend to the British Sri Lankan community, sponsored by GrowTraffic Limited: Lord Naseby, presented by British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka and Ambassador to Maldives James Dauris
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 the 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.”
BRISLA Secretary Chani Simms 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 grassroots 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.”